Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Melissa Talbott Oral History Interview, September 14, 2017

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Early Life; Growing up on a Farm; College; Moving to Bend;

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Partial Transcript: We are live, we are rolling. Your name...

Segment Synopsis: Melissa was born in the small Northern California town of Gridley, California. Gridley is a farming town that grows just about anything you can think of, and Melissa spends some time explaining the various crops, fruits, and nuts that are grown. She grew up on a dairy farm, teaching her the value of a strong work ethic from a very early age.
She had always planned to attend UC Davis to get a degree in agriculture and eventually return home and take over responsibility of the dairy farm. However, during her Freshman year her father had a heart attack, causing them to sell the dairy business. She ultimately changed her major a few times before moving to Salt Lake City and getting her degree in Community Health with a minor in Recreation. She started working for the American Lung Association for a period, but ultimately moved back home. She had met an individual who lived in Bend, and she made the decision to spend 6 months in Bend to ski and wait tables, but wound up spending the following 27 years there. She moved to Bend in 1990, and quickly fell in love with the town.

00:11:21 - Customer Service; Starting at Deschutes; Restaurant Traits;

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Partial Transcript: So what about food and restaurant scene when you moved here?

Segment Synopsis: Melissa talks about some of the expansion that has occurred throughout her tenure. When she first started they had 4 beers on tap, compared to the 19 they had at the time of the interview. She is constantly trying to find ways to improve the restaurant by communicating with their guests and understanding the ways in which they can create a better experience through both food and drink as well as service.
She shares about her introduction to Bend and Deschutes, explaining that they worked really hard and played hard too, creating a very fun environment based on camaraderie. She shares her personality traits that have helped her be successful in the industry, it requires being able to think on the fly, be outgoing, and have the ability to work with all different types of personalities.

00:26:05 - Company Personnel; Working in the Pub; Deschutes Mission;

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Partial Transcript: What were some of those points of transition for you?

Segment Synopsis: She talks about some of the struggles of having over 500 employees, making it difficult to know each team member and form a relationship. Over the years she has considered venturing into different fields within Deschutes, she has experienced the sales and marketing aspect of the business, but that often requires traveling to various festivals and events that she doesn't enjoy as much. She really enjoys the environment and culture of working at the pub, and doesn't envision herself doing anything else.
She shares the mission of Deschutes, stating that they aren't just selling burgers and beer, they are selling an experience. Due to the nature of being so customer oriented, they have created high expectations for themselves in the mind of customers, creating a high standard that creates pressure to live up to.

00:38:47 - Downtown Atmosphere; Philanthropic Activities; Meeting her Husband; Management Team

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Partial Transcript: When the brewery first opened, there were boarded up buildings..

Segment Synopsis: Melissa explains that the opening of the brewery downtown has helped contribute to the revitalization of downtown Bend. When the brewery was opened there were many boarded up buildings and vacant spaces, but as time has passed these buildings have began to fill up and rejuvenated the city life.
They are involved in community involvement, one Tuesday each month they have a non-profit come in, and for every pint they sell they donate $1 to the non-profit of the night.
She shares the story of how she met her husband at the brewery. He was raft guiding for Sun Country Tours who would come in on Monday nights, and their relationship developed from there.
She shares about the relationship between management at the pub downtown. They had to spend some time developing trust with one another, and improving their communication skills. She believes that they have a really strong team that works well together in the pub. Melissa has a very good relationship with the management at the top of Deschutes because she has been there for so long. When she has issues that need to be resolved she can go straight to the top of the senior management team.

00:50:27 - Roanoke; Company Culture; Fun Stories;

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Partial Transcript: When I started it was probably 45 of us... and now people come in and sometimes I don't even know who they are.

Segment Synopsis: Melissa speaks a bit about their relationship with Roanoke and how they came to decide to open there. When she visited, she shares how grateful the local community was that they chose that location as it will serve to be very beneficial to their local economy. It was a decision that took time to come to, but she explains how the culture at Roanoke aligns with the Deschutes culture, creating a healthy relationship between the two.
She shares some tactics they have employed to create the pub feel throughout all aspects of their business, specifically in their offices. They want to create an environment that reflects their cultures and ideals throughout all of their locations, which will be passed along to their expansion in Roanoke.
She talks about some of the company parties they threw for their employees, and shares some of her other favorite memories that she has with the company.