Bars, restaurants, gyms, bowling alleys and other fun time businesses opened for indoor service New Year’s Day. How sweet is that!

Here’s hoping that that is a sign for better times in 2021. COVID-19 is still spreading in Douglas County, the state and nationally so we still all have to be vigilant. But with a vaccine on the way there is genuine hope that at some point this year we will turn the corner and get back to some semblance of life as we knew it.

With that in mind I thought I’d list a few developments that bring hope for the new year, in no particular order.

New restaurantsYes, we lost many, many restaurants in 2020 due to COVID-19 and its fallout. And true, we will likely lose some more before the dust settles. But we also added some restaurants to entice us in 2021. There was the recent opening of Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Roseburg, which automatically earns a spot in the discussion for best burgers in town. We also had the recent opening of Taste of India in Roseburg and the brick and mortar opening of Wrappin and Rollin on Main Street in Roseburg. Then there is the expansion of a Loggers Tap House into Winston and Backside Brewing Co. Outpost into Sutherlin, which is welcome and potentially transformational news for those communities. And don’t sleep on Mountain Mike’s Pizza, coming to a spot near Roseburg High School, which should open in the next few weeks.

New apartmentsIt’s no secret that Douglas County, and especially Roseburg, have a shortage of affordable housing options available. A housing analysis completed last year for the City of Roseburg showed an acute shortage of multi-unit housing, especially for low-income residents. The good news: Two apartment complexes totaling more than 150 units — all slated for the Diamond Lake Boulevard corridor east of downtown — are in various stages of development. Additionally, a third new apartment option consisting of about three dozen studio apartments in the heart of downtown Roseburg is also set to open soon. The former Valley Hotel should start accepting tenants by the end of the month.

New OaklandThe staid, historic downtown Oakland is experiencing a bit of a building renaissance, driven by exciting new establishments/ownerships. Vince and Katrina Gaeta bought the old Tolly’s restaurant and the old Turkey Hall event center, and renovated both. The restaurant is now called Skog’s and features a varied menu, including unique Belgium waffles. The 6,000 square-foot Turkey Hall has also been completely renovated into a foodie paradise and hall for weddings and other events. Meanwhile, Jamie and Ron Gettemy took over the historic Lamplighter Café & Lounge across the street. They quickly tweaked the menu and spruced the place up a bit. The couple also bought The Speakeasy, another event center around the corner, and have plans for that down the road.

New biz growthTrevor Mauch and his seemingly ever-successful Roseburg company Carrot, continue to be trend-setters. The tech company, which helps generate real estate leads online, was once again named one of the fastest-growing companies in Oregon by the Portland Business Journal. Carrot, which has an office at 950 SE Oak Ave., came in at No. 28 with a revenue growth of 111% over the last two years. The company was founded in 2014 and currently has about three dozen employees. In the fall of 2019, Mauch bought the historic building at 549 SE Jackson St. that used to house the Roseburg Book and Stationery store. Mauch is still weighing options on how to fill the cavernous space. This spring, Mauch launched the Carrot Impact Fund. He committed $500,000 in seed money to start the charitable fund.

New ad campaignWhen the economy does reopen this region will be well-positioned to lure tourists, a key industry here that boosts the economy in myriad ways. That’s because the City of Roseburg had the foresight to hire Roseburg-based Anvil Northwest to take over the tourism marketing campaign. That campaign had been carried on for 20 years by the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and by most accounts had grown a bit stale. In February, Anvil unveiled a new logo — Experience Roseburg Oregon — and the beginnings of a new, vibrant ad campaign featuring a digital-heavy marketing strategy with eye-catching photos, videos, event calendars, interactive maps and other promotional tools. Unfortunately COVID-19 entered the picture the next month and tourism was basically a non-starter this summer. Hopefully this year will be different.

Cinnabon!Last, but certainly not least, we now have a Cinnabon location to go stuff our faces whenever we get the urge. As we reported a few weeks ago, “one of the country’s most dangerous guilty pleasures” popped up at the Pilot Travel Center in Rice Hill. As a wordsmith far more talented than I described its namesake product: “Warm cinnamon rolls painted with cascading layers of sweet, sugary icing.”

Two please!

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204.

Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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