Shari’s Cafe and Pies was born in Hermiston
HERMISTON, Ore. — Shari’s Cafe and Pies is well known across the northwest. They have at least 95 locations in Washington, Idaho, California, Wyoming, Nevada, and Oregon. It actually originated in Hermiston, Oregon.
The building went up in 1978. JD Hamilton knew the man that built it.
“I can remember when there was a string of motels right here,” he said.
Hamilton first tried the food at Shari’s in December of 1978, when the doors opened. Serving him was Toni Aragon.
Aragon was 18 and had just graduated high school.
“I remember the night Shari’s opened because I worked the graveyard,” she said. “We had white uniforms, white nurse shoes, and we had little red aprons.
Back then, Shari’s was known for their burgers served with salads, not fries. Aragon said they were the only restaurant in the area to do that so it became a popular item.
It was Hermiston’s first 24-hour restaurant and everyone wanted to see it.
“Everyone just loved that. It was new,” said Aragon.
She said it became a popular spot for kids to meet up after athletic games and school dances. She’s seen an array of people come in and out of the doors.
“It has always been a meeting place for people. It’s a halfway point when people bring their kids to meet with the other parent, and grandparents. It’s a meeting place for people that haven’t seen each other in a really long time. It’s been a meeting place for farmers,” Aragon continued.
And Hamilton agrees. He said if you are looking to beat the rush, come in before 10:30 a.m.
He lives four miles outside of town and makes the drive everyday. He said he eats at the restaurant at least twice a day. Originally, Hamiton came in to try the food but he stayed for another reason.
“They take care of me,” Hamiton exclaimed. They treat him like family. “I just went to the doctors and they all want to know what he said.”
Aragon said she loves her interactions with the customers.
“There are some customers that you just get attached to. They are just wonderful to you. There is this certain kind of respect for you and then you end up having a friendship with them. That’s the fun part,” she said.
Aragon said even the employees who leave the restaurant want to come back.
“They always want to come back,” she chuckled. “We have a lot of rehires.”
She said Ron and Sharon Berquist were great to work for. She said they taught her a lot.
“I often wonder what Ron and Shari are doing,” said Aragon. “It makes me wonder what they think to see such a boom.”
The couple also owned the Blue Bucket in Umatilla. It’s now the Riverside Bar Sports and Lounge.
It is rumored that Ron started Shari’s because he designed a building and he wanted to see come to fruition. He loved his design so much that he even built their house in the same shape.