Union Gap restaurant celebrates 75th anniversary

Jean's Cottage Inn opened its doors in 1946

UNION GAP, Wash. — Local businesses have struggled during the pandemic, but many are holding strong, including a Union Gap restaurant that is celebrating 75 years in business.

Jean’s Cottage Inn opened its doors in 1946 and has been serving the Yakima Valley ever since. In the past year, co-owner Allan Marks said the restaurant has faced hardships due to COVID-19 restrictions, but has made it through because of its customers’ dedication.

“We have the best customers that anybody could ask for,” Marks said. “They’re loyal. They’re our family. They come in talk to us about their lives.”

Some regular customers come in every day while others try to come in on a weekly or monthly basis, but most are repeat customers who have been visiting the restaurant for years or even decades.

“The food is great, the help is great and the prices are reasonable, very reasonable,” said Jerry Allen, a retired truck driver who has been eating at Jean’s Cottage Inn for more than 30 years.

Every Thursday, Allen has breakfast with Orville Guisinger, Mel McGuire and Montie McPherson, who are also retired truck drivers.

“I’ve been coming here with this group of guys ever since I retired and that’s been about eight years now,”  Guisinger said. “We’ve all ate – since we were all truck drivers – everywhere, you know, all up and down and this is one of the best places you can find.”

McGuire has been coming to the restaurant for more than 20 years. He said it’s a great place to relax because everyone is friendly.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere, with the friendly waitresses and it’s family-owned — I like that part,” McGuire said.

In the past year, the restaurant has closed and reopened several times due to changing COVID-19 restrictions.

Ashley Woods, has worked as a server at the restaurant for eight years, said while it’s hard to close and reopen, they’ve taken the precautions seriously and have kept up with rigid cleaning protocols. Despite the challenges, Woods said she’s happy to be there.

“I just love coming to work every day: all my customers, my bosses are awesome,” Woods said.

Marks said he’s had to keep thinking of new ways to do things in order to keep up.

“Our lives were so normal and we did the same thing all the time and ever since this COVID hit, there’s no normalcy,” Marks said. “Every week brings new challenges.”

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