Mediterranean, Italian Food at the Doty Chehalis River Gage

Headwaters to Harbor: Family Behind Former Willapa Hills Family Farm and Creamery Finds Success With New Venture


Editor’s Note: This story is part of "Headwaters to Harbor," a project by The Chronicle to document the Chehalis River from Pe Ell to Grays Harbor while highlighting people and issues connected to the river along the way. Our coverage is compiled online at

Food from a barn on the Chehalis River doesn’t necessarily conjure high expectations.

Fortunately for Owl and Olive owners Stephen Hueffed and his wife, Amy, that means customers are regularly wowed.

The restaurant, which serves Mediterranean and Italian inspired cuisine, is located on the same property as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Chehalis River gage at Doty.

The gage was washed out entirely by the flood of 2007.

Nailed into a concrete block buried in the ground with a thick cable stretched across the river banks, washing it out is no small feat for a river.

Then again, the ‘07 flood also took out entire bridges just a ways downstream.

At the time, the family was running Willapa Hills Family Farm and Creamery, but fortunately made it through the flood without major damage to their property or livestock.

“Black Sheep Creamery lost their sheep (in the flood). Sheep, once they get saturated, at some point, they get exhausted, they’ll drown because their wool holds so much water. We lucked out,” Stephen Hueffed said. “Our fields were no worse than any other November.”

The channel near the Doty gage is deeper and wider than it becomes downstream. Just on the other side of Rainbow Falls, families were being rescued off their roofs.

“We had little to complain about,” Hueffed said. “We’re really lucky.”

About six years ago, the family turned its barn into a venue for weddings and musical performances. Between the venue business and the creamery’s success, eventually Hueffed said he reached a point where it was time to step away or grow way bigger than they’d hoped. They chose the former.

They still run the venue business, mostly attracting the crowds interested in a barn wedding with a jazzed-up style, rather than the traditional shabby chic aesthetic. Plus, weddings there can be held with the backdrop of the beautiful Chehalis River.

But in place of their family farm and creamery came a new adventure: the Owl and Olive.

Hueffed works as the wait staff. Lunches get crazy, he said, but their reservation-only system for dinner is working well. In the summer, the restaurant may expand by using outdoor tables.

The couple has enjoyed reuniting with old friends by random chance, meeting new people and adding diversity to the cuisine of the area.

“We draw 90% of our customers from Centralia to South Bend,” Hueffed said. “They're just pleasantly surprised. And we get a fair number of locals, but we're not competing with Evey's or the pub in the general sense because the menu is just so different.”

The restaurant has just three tables and an open concept kitchen allowing all people in the small room the ability to chat.

“What I like about this is the environment, the intimacy and the approachability of it. The uniqueness of it, we benefit from,” Hueffed said. “If you open a restaurant in Pioneer Square in Seattle or, wherever in Portland, people are walking in with really high expectations. You say you get a sandwich in a barn in Doty, the bar they come in with is really low — and then we surpass it.”

If You Go

Facebook: @owlandolivecafe


Address: 4680 state Route 6

Phone: 360-880-0212

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Sunday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Dinners by reservation only.