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Longevity award goes to Rogue River Lodge

Since you asked

Restaurants come and go so quickly. My wife and I moved to the Rogue Valley in 1979 and can almost count on one hand the ones still in business. Which one holds the record for longevity? My thought was Omar's in Ashland. My wife thought Mon Desir in Central Point.

Could your researchers answer this one for us?

' Mark E., Medford

Well Mark, we hear at Since You Asked are blessed with diligent researchers, but we also know which side our dinner role is buttered on. So we consulted our erstwhile colleague, longtime dining columnist Cleve Twitchell. He ate at what he says is the oldest restaurant under several different owners since the 1960s, and he says you're both wrong.

And the answer is: the Rogue River Lodge in Trail.

The lodge opened its doors July 10, 1936, the restaurant on June 13 the next year. The lodge was managed by Montie Gilhousen, a former United Airlines pilot who flew when the landing strip was at the county fairgrounds. His wife, Lillian, ran the dining room. A newspaper account of the day described the lodge as ultra-modern and strictly modern in every detail.

It was later operated for many years by Ken and Dory Meirstin and became known for its piano bar. The restaurant closed its doors briefly but was re-opened by Ken and Sharon Brown last year.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to