Yesterday, Eater reported that Drew Lockett had left the kitchen of the View Point Inn, the restaurant/lodge with the breathtaking... um... view point located at the entrance of the Columbia Gorge (it was also famously featured in the last scenes of the first Twilight film). "I really enjoyed working with the staff once we got things in order," Lockett says. "The staff are great people, [and] I can't say enough good things about them. We did great business with a small group of focused, driven individuals."
So why the departure? Eater checked in with Lockett (who has worked at downtown Portland's Bluehour as well as in New Orleans and New York City), who dished some major behind-the-scenes info about Inn owner Geoff Thompson (hilariously referred to as "Buff Daddy" in a 1999 WWeek piece.) Among Lockett's charges: Bounced paychecks, fiscal mismanagement, and management that was unable to "treat their employees like people." Oooh dirt!
So why did you decide to leave the View Point?
I could no longer stay at a job where the ownership and management were not able to balance the books and treat their employees like people. Our payroll checks would bounce regularly regardless of what position you held within the business. It made me feel terrible to see our backwaiters and porters have their payroll checks not be worth anything or have to wait a number of days until there was money in the accounts to cover them. In the meantime you see the owners and upper management buy new cars and go on vacations, it was insulting.
There were also times where I was not able to order food for the restaurant due to lack of funds. We usually paid our vendors in cash due to a low source of funds and fiscal mismanagement. There is no company in the Portland metro area that would extend credit to the View Point Inn. The better business bureau gives the View Point inn a grade of "F", (and) I was not willing to help revamp and revitalize a business for owners and management who are not honest people. The vendors that did do business with the View Point Inn did so as a favor to me, based on relationships I have built since being in Portland, so that I had the things that I liked to work with. It is unfortunate, the inn has tons of potential and could be an amazing place, but due to the way that the owners and management choose to do business it will never make it.
Did the Inn's Twilight fame make things even more miserable? Did you ever have to cook anything that was "Twilight-y"?
Thankfully no. I am not a fan of the movie. The property is visited daily by a number of Twilight fans, but I never cooked anything geared to emulate anything from the movie in any regard. During the summer the event coordinator at the time and I planned a "Vampire Ball" for Halloween this year which would have been a really cool party to attend regardless of what your opinion of, or interest in the Twilight movie. The ownership decided to let her go and now they are doing something with magicians and some sort of casino theme that is far less interesting.
What are you going to do next?
I'm not sure. I'm looking for something where I will get to work with business minded, food and service oriented people, it may not happen in Oregon. I randomly received a call from New Orleans yesterday from some friends and former co-workers about a project that they are putting together that I would be a part of. It would be tough to leave Oregon but New Orleans will always be home and maybe it is the right time to do so. Besides, who in their right mind would turn down a chef's position at a new restaurant in the French Quarter? Not this guy. I've always loved New Orleans and for people who are not from there or lived there its not all Mardi Gras, hurricane parties and alligator hunting. There is so much more culture there than anywhere else I have lived, something that I didn't realize growing up there. Then again, there's nothing wrong with Mardi Gras, hurricane parties or alligator hunting either, you can't do any of those things in Portland!
· All Previous Drew Lockett Coverage [Eater PDX]