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New owners for Callahan's Mountain Lodge

The venerable, 75-year-old Callahan’s Mountain Lodge has been sold to a California couple who will keep the name and look, but have already changed the old meat-and-pasta menu to a more modern, European lineup, with chef Kevin Broadie, former owner of the Eleven restaurant in Ashland, in charge of the kitchen.

Perched in the Siskiyou Mountains at the Mount Ashland exit off Interstate 5, Callahan’s was started in 1946 by Don and Nilde Callahan. It’s a popular retreat, wedding spot and hangout for skiers and Pacific Crest Trail hikers. It burned to the ground in 2006 and was rebuilt at a cost of $4 million by owners Ron and Donna Bergquist, who retired Sept. 4, when the sale closed. They ran it for 25 years.

The goal of the new owners, Lisa and Mark Cleaner of Bar-C Properties LLC, is “to operate with the same level of charm and community cognizance, with the same spirit that everyone in the community and visitors feel — and with improvements on the menu and service,” said Eric Vu, their advisor.

He said they own and operate other lodges, including one at Lake Tahoe, and will be “hands on” owners and “want to be part of the community.”

The lodge is now hosting and feeding many people fleeing and fighting wildfires, without charge, “if they need a place to crash and shower,” Vu said. “We’re in a state of emergency right now.”

The menu, says Donna Bergquist, “is already very different than the original Italian style. There’s lots of fresh vegetables, less protein, more produce. Ours had more protein, like steaks and beef stroganoff.”

Bergquist says it’s hard to walk away from Callahan’s, “a Southern Oregon legend. It’s a unique property with its own water source, septic and its own personality, because it’s on the side of a mountain. It takes a lot of expertise, which my husband has. He built the place twice and is an expert at all systems, so we’re certain the new owners will look to us for help. We’re just finished building a new home and are retiring a quarter mile down the road.”

Callahan’s menu, at https://callahanslodge.com/dining/, shows small plates, such as Crabby Corn, Brie en Croute (cheese, cherries, hazelnuts, baked in puff pastry), Smoked Salmon Crostini and Drunken Lamb (marinated in tamari, bourbon and mustard). Large plates include salmon, lamb chops, prime rib, roasted chicken and burgers.

Broker Joseph Kennedy of Crystal Investment Properties in Portland handled the sale. He said online, “The unique lodge holds a special place in the community for events and celebrations. When the current owners decided it was time to retire, we knew a new owner needed to be ready to carry on the legacy. We are pleased that the new owners and their team have a tremendous vision for the future and wish the sellers the best as they move forward into retirement.”

Callahan’s is open 365 days a year and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with live music on weekends. It has outside patio seating in warm weather and a two-sided native stone fireplace amid the dining room and full-service bar for colder nights. The Cleaner family could not be reached for comment.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.