An Idaho moulding company creates an Old West-themed steakhouse.

 

This dramatic interior facade rises above patrons of Hamley’s Steakhouse, which was built from part of a saddle manufacturing facility.

Pendleton, OR, is a place where the spirit of the Wild West still lives. Nestled in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, on the historical Oregon Trail and next to the Umatilla Indian Reservation, this colorful town is the home of the world famous “Round Up,” a rodeo that draws cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the West, competing for prizes in roping, riding and other skills.

Some of the competitors may be using leather saddles manufactured by Hamley & Co. of Pendleton. Hamleys is the oldest operating saddle manufacturer in the United States, having originally descended, the legend has it, from King Arthur’s personal saddle-maker. The company has been operating out of the same building in downtown Pendleton for the last 101 years. When Hamleys recently decided to renovate a part of its building into a first-class, turn-of-the-century style steakhouse, Braided Accents, of Rathdrum, ID, got the call.

A section of the historic building, which is a full block wide, half a block deep and two stories high, was thoroughly gutted before the renovation could begin. “In my 37 years, I’m not sure I’ve ever done a project quite like this,” says Clint Bower, owner of Braided Accents. “What was interesting was that there was not an architect on this project. The owners of the restaurant and building knew what they wanted, and they zeroed in on us to help them do it. It was a fun project for us because they gave us a lot of latitude and asked us what our thoughts were as to how to do what they wanted to do. It was a collaboration between us and them.”

Braided Accents, founded in 1997, is a manufacturer of hardwood rope-accented mouldings, dentil crowns and specialty items. Its 22,000-square-foot shop employs 15 workers. According to Bower, they do not do a lot of restoration work, but this was a special situation. “There are just not a lot of projects out there that are so milling, moulding and lumber-intensive,” Bower explains.“There’s so much chrome and brass contemporary look out there now."

More than $130,000 of materials were supplied by Braided Accents for this project.

“We wanted our name on the project and wanted the involvement, because there is some added value in that,” Bower continues. Despite the inherent value of doing high-profile work, fair profit is still a part of the equation. Bower explains that they estimate the price on these types of jobs in much the same way as a normal job. 

“Basically, it starts at the very bottom, just like we do with our own product lines. For example, a customer says he needs a 5-inch crown moulding. We then figure that as a 6-1/2 or 7-inch piece of lumber. I don’t want to say you work backwards, you actually work forward. It starts with the cost of the lumber. Then knowing your labor, knowing what it costs to run it through a machine. It takes knowing what some of this high-end lumber sells for in the marketplace. When you can zero in on what your costs are to produce that product, then you can say what is a fair margin. But, I think, because this was a signature project, we did in fact give them good pricing.”

This enterprise presented several special challenges for Braided Accents, as Bowers explains. “The staircases are very dramatic, and we supplied all the wood. And we had some outsourcing, because we don’t do wood turning. So we had 350 of these red oak balusters made by an outsource. They also wanted a very big handrail, which posed a bit of a challenge, because they wanted a big rail in quartersawn oak. We ended up gluing three pieces of lumber together to make this big rail. Then we had to do it in specific lengths to fit the job.

“There was also a little bit of radius work in the job where they wanted some curved mouldings,” he continues. “And we did some matching. They bought a tremendous amount of antique furniture from both the U.S. and Europe. They bought some furniture in Europe for one private dining room that is really dramatic. It’s floor to ceiling. So we had to do a little bit of matching of mouldings to match up to that situation.”

Braided Accents also had to overcome the additional challenge of distance, often making the 235-mile trip from Ranthdrum to Pendleton to oversee the ongoing process. “We’re not the biggest company in the world, but we do a good job, and we made a commitment to them last December, that we would have somebody on the job site every 10 days or more if required,” Bowers says.

“That made them feel real good, and either myself, or my salesperson, or both tried to be there every 10 days, because there were a lot of unknowns. We stood in this dining room with them, I don’t know how many times, saying, ‘What do you think that ceiling should look like? How should we do this?’ It was a true collaboration. We really put a lot of attention into this, and it ended up being a terrific job.”

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