The former Memories Cafe in Corvallis has been purchased by a wonderfully talented and driven local chef, with a goal of hosting a grand opening by the close of 2021. With so many local businesses closing or in peril, I had to know what moved this woman to embark on such huge undertaking and life-changing adventure in the middle of a pandemic. Bottom line is, she loves to cook for people, and people love her cooking.

I asked Arnetta Smith about her background.

I'm originally from Dallas and was never able to afford college. Being a single Mom of sons, I put myself in front of some of the best chefs in the world. I was like a sponge. I wanted to be patient and listen to everything they had to teach me. Being Texas-born, I was raised picking fresh vegetables in the fields, and growing up in kitchens where we all would hang out and love our family and our friends with food. It's really all I've ever known. I wanted to be a chef all my life with the goal to own my own restaurant. I put in the hard work and made a lot of sacrifices.

What's your motivation to take this on in the middle of a pandemic!?

I ran the seafood station at Guy's steakhouse and worked my way to the line. I was a pastry chef for 171/2 years at Guy's Steakhouse and went back and forth between a Pantry chef and Sous chef at Bitterroot Brewery, The Wild Mare Steakhouse, and The Mission Bistro. I figured If I was working this hard, why not get an investor like a big girl. What's the worst that can happen!?

Photo by Arnie Smith

Will you keep the "Memories Cafe" name?

My motivation always was my 3 sons. My oldest son Is a badass beekeeper for Hood River Bee Company. They had to move the whole bee operation to Chico, California every January and he would be gone for 6 months. It was like someone chopped a limb off me having one of kids gone that long and was really hard for me. So when the Dandelions bloom here in Montana, I would take a picture and send it to Robbie and they would pack up the whole bee operation and haul it all back to Montana. When the dandelions bloom here in Montana, I knew my baby was coming home. So I'm renaming Memories Cafe "The Dandelion Cafe." 

When will The Dandelion Cafe make its debut to the pubic?

We're hoping to open in a month. I'm gonna be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. If we're successful with that and get good support from the community, I will open into a full steak and seafood restaurant, as well. We have a 60 person capacity inside and during the spring and summer, will offer a 32 capacity outdoor patio area with a gazebo a landscaped garden. I plan on serving a very special and simple menu of my family favorites, with a focus on using fresh and local ingredients when possible.

Congratulations to Arnetta on this amazing adventure, we can't wait to experience The Dandelion! You can find it at 1017 Eastside Highway in Corvallis.

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