Established in 1946, the beloved landmark is oldest eatery between Redding and Portland
By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news
After more than two decades of devotion to Omar’s restaurant, owner Jennifer Sink is selling the whole establishment — to the right person.
“I don’t want her to go to just anybody. She is family — I call her ‘she’ because I feel like Omar’s is a female — I’m hoping the person or people who buy her will just love the history and everything about her as much as I do and not change anything. So many people have stories here, getting married, or meeting their spouses,” Sink said.
After almost seven years as sole proprietor of Omar’s Fresh Seafood & Steaks, the longest-running restaurant from Portland to Redding, customer service, bartending and serving are all still dear to her heart, she said. But during the pandemic, she started Horse Haven Trails to pursue other passions — helping those with trauma and supporting her horse habit, she said.
Sink also has two teenage daughters, one of whom will be off to college next year. While spending time with family and starting a new career have prompted her to let go, she’s still holding on a little.
Sink said she hopes the new owner will not only respect tradition but allow her to stay on and work a couple nights a week. She knows most of her customers by name and thinks of her employees as family, she said, not to mention the affection she has for Omar’s itself.
It all started with a job as a cocktail server on, “The two slowest nights of the week,” 22 years ago, she said. After nine years, she was offered a partnership with the establishment’s other owners. As the years went by, other partners wanted out and Sink bought their portions until she found herself the first sole proprietor of Omar’s.
She lists April Fool’s Day among her favorite memories.
“April Fools Day — that was my buy-in day. They had never allowed a woman to be in charge of everything, every year I celebrate my buy-in day,” she said.
When asked about her other favorite memories, she talked about traditions that bring people together: The annual Southern Oregon University alumni party, Santa coming every year, the end of the school year when teachers from Walker Elementary lead their students to Omar’s for free sundaes, serving the Ashland High School football team before homecoming games and the anniversary of the establishment itself.
In the interior of the restaurant, Sink said, as a self-described history buff she has changed little (other than replacing carpet). Instead, she’s added pieces of history with framed newspaper articles to help customers connect to local memories and Omar’s place in Ashland’s history.
When Omar’s opened 77 years ago at 1380 Siskiyou Blvd., it was after the president of Southern Oregon University approached the first owners suggesting a public lounge, she said. At the time, the only other place in town to get a drink was the Ashland Elks Lodge which required being a club member — and only men could join the club. Students were driving over the Siskiyou Pass in search of a good time and getting in car accidents, Sink said.
Since putting the restaurant up for sale around two weeks ago — listed at $350,000 for the business only, no real estate (it occupies a 2,915-square-foot-building on a .22-acre lot) — Sink said there has been quite a bit of interest. While many in the community have expressed nervousness in seeing the landmark on the market, this isn’t the first time Omar’s has changed hands.
“The funny thing is it’s had multiple different owners — I think I’m the 14th owner. It just has never been for sale on the open market, it’s always been kind of hush-hush, people were just brought in internally,” she said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time when I was offered the partnership, I look forward to passing it over to the right person at the right time.”
Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at email@example.com.
Sept. 26: Corrected number of years Jennifer Sink has been sole proprietor.