"It is too much competition. Since we opened, there are at least 30 restaurants in a short driving distance," Dennis Williams of the Dark Horse Tavern, 209 Byers Road, told this news organization. "People want new and shiny, and our business has fallen off."
Dark Horse Tavern’s closed on April 16. The business employed 15 people.
Williams opened the business in the Byers Plaza Shopping Center 12 years ago.
He also owns the plaza and said he is willing to sell and/or lease the Dark Horse space. The space would be ideal for a bar or restaurant, but other concepts could work as well, Williams said.
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Williams closed the Dark Horse in 2016, but reopened it four months later that December.
Back then, he told this news organization that the bar had become too difficult and time-consuming to manage, in part, due to time needed for his other businesses.
He put the bar and property up for sale, but was not able to find a buyer.
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The building has held a tavern for 42 years, Williams said.
The restaurant was well-known for its barbecue.
It originally held an Oregon Express location and later the Byers Inn Restaurant and Tavern.
Williams said much has changed since then.
“Oregon Express was the only bar south of town,” he noted. “Look at it now. It has a million (bars and restaurants).”
Williams launched the Dark Horse with business partner Daryl Gronauer, who died in 2012.
“We thought it would be a fun thing to do,” Williams said. “Once business gets below a certain point, it’s no fun.”