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Landmark Oregon restaurant to close doors

Longtime owner wants to retire

OREGON – An Oregon icon will close its doors at the end of this month after more than 60 years in business.

Maxson’s Riverside Restaurant and the Pride of Oregon Riverboat will serve meals for the last time on Oct. 31, owner Rich Wiesner said Tuesday.

“The decision to close has been tremendously difficult, but we’ve come to realize that now is the best time for this to happen,” Wiesner said in a news release this week.

In a phone interview, Wiesner, 66, said he wants to retire, but hasn’t been able to find a buyer for the landmark restaurant.

“I’ve had it for sale for a year now, and I haven’t had one person [buyer] come through here,” he said.

Wiesner said he still hopes to sell the restaurant.

“It’s a good location,” he said. “It’s a good banquet facility.”

Wiesner, who is the restaurant’s fourth owner, has owned and operated it since mid-September 1992, when he purchased it from the heirs of Rose Jones.

John Maxson and his family opened the restaurant in 1952 and operated it until they sold it to John and Peter Tsioles in 1978.

Jones bought the restaurant from the Tsioles brothers in 1985. She added the riverboat, originally called the Rose of the Rock, 4 years later.

The paddle wheeler was built in Palatka, Fla. It was launched on the St. John’s River and sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, to Mobile, Ala., on its month-long trip to Oregon.

Its route took it up the Mobile River to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, then on the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, and finally up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Ottawa, where it was dismantled and bought overland by semitractor-trailers to Oregon.

The northbound lane of Interstate 39 was closed to traffic to allow the riverboat to be transported to state Route 64, which was closed while the semis made their way to the boat launch on River Road.

Once at Oregon, the vessel was reassembled. Its maiden voyage on the Rock River was Sept. 9, 1989.

A fire destroyed the original restaurant building on March 27, 1993, but it was rebuilt and reopened in the summer of 1994.

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