Yes, There Really Was a Tad!
It’s spring again, the smelt have just finished their spring run, and we’re in the mood to share some amazing facts about Tad’s with you.
Did you know that Tad’s, as a local institution, is nearly eighty years old?
Handsome Tad Johnson, known locally as a rascal and a fisherman, (in that order,) opened his roadhouse in the late 1920’s at the east end of the Sandy River Bridge. Prohibition was still in effect, the smelt ran free, Bonnie and Clyde made the news and the Historic Columbia River Highway was new then.
This makes Tad’s one of the first, and now one of the last, remaining Historic Columbia River Highway roadhouses from that era. To give you some perspective, Tad Johnson’s original roadhouse was built just after Multnomah Falls Lodge and a little before Timberline Lodge, making it an important part of the lasting legacy of hospitality in the Columbia River Gorge, the Sandy River Delta and the Mt. Hood Watershed.
The original Tad’s was primarily a fish-house, a place to eat fresh, local seafood. The food was simple and regional, perfect for hungry travelers and the new migrants moving into Oregon. As part of that Northwest legacy, we still feature fish and chips and salmon smoked in-house from local Alder trees.
Tad’s moved to its current location in the forties. The restaurant added Chicken and Dumplings to the menu and never looked back. After I-84 was built, Tad’s was still a local favorite with its dance floor, jukeboxes, lunch counter and later, its open-air patio and full bar.
Throughout the twentieth century and into the next, we’ve never stopped feeding hungry travelers (from near and far.) As we approach our one hundred year anniversary, we are so grateful and proud to be a delicious part of local history.