History of the Drift Inn
We've been open since October of 2000, and that's
been plenty of time for a lot of changes at the drift. Remodelling,
new menus, new people, more booths, a new stage, expanding kitchens,
a full bar, more employees, a breakfast menu, and more.
There is also a long, and colorful, history
of the Drift before Linda took the reigns and began this transformation.
Lester's Drift Inn was a watering hole for locals and the occasional
tourist who was more comfortable in a smoky bar than on the beach.
Instead of just re-telling all of the stories we've heard, we'd
like to give everyone a chance to tell you in their own words.
Here's one to get you going. This is a short bit
about Lester written around the time he closed his bar in 1994:
To what does he owe his
"I never smoked, drank or chewed.
I was too busy working!" he says."
Entering Yachats north-bound on Highway
101. You're not likely to notice an unassuming two-story building
on your right. And why should you? It doesn't advertise itself;
only a sign seaffolding suggest a store. But it is a landmark nonetheless.
Officially it is the Drift Inn Tavern. But the sign fell off years
ago, and it seemed unnecessary to spend money for new one when
everyone knew it as Lester's place.
Lester Blair - "that's
Scottish Irish, German and English" as he describes his origins--is
84 years old and has owned the Yachats tavern for 30 years.
He opens at 5:30 p.m. every evening
and stays open as long as there are customers sometimes until legal
closing time around 2 a.m. He is the sole bartender. He serves
only beer and wine and never had interest in owning a "liquor
bar" that sells hard liquor. The fare is modest-- Hamms, Blitz,
Pabst,Bud, Coors, Rainner, a few micro-brews, red and white wine.
The prices are a bargain--$1 for any can or bottle, except microbrews
which go for $1.75, and 50 cents for a glass of Blitz.
The ambience is low-key, a bar with
stools on three sides, a few tables, a pool table, beer signs on
the walls, a bulletin-message board, an ancient cash register,
and Lester, a generous, amiable, self-effacing, industrious gentleman.
When he is not in the tavern, Lester
is in his apartment above it. He rarely goes anywhere else. He
hasbeen to the river across the highway once, but he's never been
to the ocean.
"I ve got the best view upstairs," he says.
He owns a red 1974 Mercury Comet and
occasionally drives it to Newport for supplies or to visit his
only living brother in Long Beach Washington, across the Columbia
River from Astoria. Lester says the tread on the tires is like
His needs and wants are few. Since
he retired from the Alsea Veneer plant he has received Social Security,
but he's put it all into money markets. He could retire from the
tavern, but there's no place he wants to go and nothing he wants
to buy. And he is always busy, fixing a washing machine, painting,
reparing something or maintaining his spacious apartment, which
he renovated when he bought the tavern.
Lester Blair never became a Texas
cowboy, But he is a western legend. A host and his tavern, serving
the public - and pleasing himself.