Tastee Treet turns 50

Prineville icon says ‘happy birthday’ with 1957 prices

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 12. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – Fifty years to the day since she and her husband opened the Tastee Treet restaurant in Prineville, Dorothy Westberg was one of hundreds of people celebrating its anniversary Sunday.

Patrons lined up at the Third Street mainstay for meals whose prices had been knocked back to 1957: 25-cent hamburgers and milkshakes and 20-cent french fries.

Westberg said she and her husband built the restaurant on the lawn of the neighboring house they owned and ran it until about 1967.

“We never thought about (whether it would stay open this long),” she said, “but, boy, we were busy – we opened at 8 in the morning and closed at 10 at night.”

The balloon- and streamer-festooned diner, with a parking lot full of classic cars, drew so much business Sunday that the servers ran out of hamburgers at 1 p.m., two hours before the party was scheduled to end.

Current owner Jana Rhoden said she ordered 450 burgers for the event. She added that the milkshake machine almost burned out and she had to turn it off.

“It was an awesome thing to do and to try to give to the community, I guess – kind of give back a bit,” said Rhoden, who has owned the Tastee Treet for about two years and grew up in Prineville. “I had no idea it would be like this.”

Some customers were angry about the food running out early, but Jim Landrum, who meets with other classic car aficionados at the restaurant a few times a week, said he didn’t think anyone anticipated such a turnout.

“I came in for breakfast and the cars, so I was here at 10:30 and people were starting to line up at 20 minutes to 11,” the event’s starting time, said Landrum, who lives in Redmond. “How do you know they’re going to do that?”

Adrione Gaytan said that she brought her two children to the Tastee Treet primarily for the low prices, but added that the restaurant’s old-fashioned atmosphere is a draw as well.

“Sometimes I think we get tired of the big conglomerates, the big businesses, plus it kind of reminds you of when you were a kid,” Gaytan said.

The diner has changed little since the 1950s, with its U-shaped countertop and bar stools, where a group of locals drinking coffee can almost always be found – despite the arrival of Prineville’s first Starbucks earlier this year. The stone building with its ice cream cone sign now sits next to the new City Hall.

Gaytan’s 13-year-old son, Zack Earll, said that “old restaurants are kind of cool.”

“I just like this place – it’s nice, it’s convenient, it’s not too far,” Zack said. “It’s just kind of a nice little spot.”

Jerry Hensley, who brought his 1939 bright yellow Chevrolet with him Sunday, agreed with that characterization. Hensley said he usually stops by several times a day – “for morning coffee, 10 o’clock coffee and afternoon B.S.”

“It’s just a place for everyone to gather and the location – you can sit here and watch everyone in town go by,” Hensley said. “I think every town has their gathering point, you know, and this one’s been here so long it’s just become part of the town.”

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