After 70 years, Callahan’s Lodge has emerged as Southern Oregon’s landmark destination resort. This is a true family-owned and operated lodge, restaurant and events facility. Cut literally into the side of the mountain and spring water-fed, Callahan’s Lodge offers sincere hospitality and a reputation that keeps guests, hikers, skiers and visitors coming back year after year. With nineteen generously appointed rooms and a full-service restaurant and bar, Callahan’s Mountain Lodge will be kept “all in the family” for years to come.
The Lodge features live music 365 evenings a year, real wood fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs in every room. The Main Lodge features four rock wall fireplaces, four banquet rooms with full access to Wi-Fi and AV and one with its own fireplace. In addition, there is both an expansive lawn with a lodge pole gazebo for outdoor weddings, two waterfall features, and an outdoor dining deck unmatched in Southern Oregon. The lodge is ready for your next event, vacation or special time out!
Last spring, Donna and Ron Bergquist were joined by her sister, Jennifer, and her husband, Tim. Now celebrating their first year of working together, we ventured the scenic drive up to the lodge to conduct the following interview.
Welcome Donna, Ron, Jennifer and Tim. Today officially marks your one-year anniversary of working together as a family. Congratulations! Can you tell us how you have settled in this first year?
Jennifer – I have been involved with the Lodge since its purchase in January 1996. I was with Donna when the lodge burned down in September 2006. Before that, I actually introduced her to Ron. Joining her to carry on the tradition the Callahans started in 1947 was like coming home. That is what I enjoy most – the personalized attention given to all of our guests.
Donna – The last year has been a remarkably satisfying time because Ron and I are sharing the joys and challenges of Callahan’s success with our family. Tim and Jennifer care as much as we have about the success and continued growth of the Lodge.
Tim – It may have been my first full year at the Lodge, but I have been here for every major holiday and special occasion for the last several years. It was probably a ploy to break me in slowly! So I had a really good idea of exactly how special and magical of a place I was joining. To be honest, I am still amazed to wake up each morning in a place as beautiful and breathtaking as this mountain.
Ron, what is it about Callahan’s that people find to be so welcoming?
Ron – The instant people walk in our door there is an immediate sense that it is a personable, one-of-a-kind Southern Oregon mountain icon. It’s a comfortable and friendly lodge. In truth, it is our home and we treat everyone as a guest in our home. People have discovered this and return over and over again. This is the perfect stopping spot or staying spot! Because it feels like coming home we have guests that always want the same room, the same dining table and the same meal. They want to know Callahan’s will be there for them and will continue to be a part of their Oregon experience.
Donna – I have been coordinating, planning and helping brides with their wedding day for 20 years. What we offer is a rare opportunity to make our lodge your lodge for your special day. We take care of everything from setup and decorating, to catering, all the way to the champagne toast, cake-cutting, and of course, the cleanup. Tim reminds me that I forget to mention we offer a complimentary wedding planner with all our packages. It’s true. We take tremendous pride in taking care of every detail.
Jennifer – Events inspire my passion for refining details, whether it’s the deliberately mis-matched antique silverware or the handpicked flowers for each table. We have wonderful guests who rely on us to think ahead of what is needed, whether it’s a 60th Anniversary, a wedding for ten or 200, an 18th birthday or a retirement party. An event at Callahan’s is always special and we look forward to being a part of it and celebrating the moments almost as much as the guests themselves.
Jennifer, you originally introduced your sister Donna to Ron 25 years ago. After all these years, here you both are working side by side to bring this awesome experience to our community.
Donna – It’s true, she introduced me to Ron almost 25 years ago, and time has come for us to be together again. Mutual admiration, respect and dedication to work that matter so much to so many drives us. We rely on and trust each other completely. The qualities my sister and I share, the qualities that Ron and Tim share, and the individual talents of each of us make this a winning combination for the long-term!
Jennifer – I am fortunate to have worked alongside my sister in one fashion or another throughout my life. Many of the qualities she speaks of I learned directly from her. I am thrilled to be alongside her as we expand the Callahan’s traditions.
Tim – Absolutely. Our dress code is closely aligned with our menu. Pacific Crest Trail hiker shorts and boots to black tux and gowns. Lodge burger to lobster. I always guarantee guests who ask, “You will feel comfortable and in the right place – you can’t overdress or underdress at Callahan’s.” Our guests enjoy diversity.
Jennifer – Our dress code applies equally to us as well. This is a “Mountain Lodge,” and it’s a small farm with horses, goats, bunnies and a lot of ground to maintain. There are many mornings where I come in directly from the barn, coffee cup in hand, and greet our guests on the way to my office.
You guys are also family- and pet-friendly. Please say more.
Jennifer – We are first and foremost a family. And our own pets – the goats, the bunnies, the dogs – are very dear to us. So we understand families and we understand pets. We have had more than one guest tell us they saw our webpage and decided this was their kind of place. Our webpage states on page one:
“We are a PET FRIENDLY and FAMILY FRIENDLY Lodge and Restaurant. Well Behaved Parents and Pet Owners are allowed to eat with their children and/or companion animals. We have an official “Lodge Dog” who will come by to say “Hi.”
Tim – A constant theme in the online reviews, the comment cards and the personal conversations I have with our guests is “our secret” location – our hidden gem. We are minutes from downtown, we are visible from the I-5 to both north and southbound travelers, and I do my best every day to let everyone know exactly where we are located We are the best kept secret on I-5 because the magic happens when you stop and walk in our doors. Stop in and say “Hi” and chances are you will be coming back or staying. That’s the secret.
Jennifer and Donna, your restaurant is outstanding and had been able to form many partnerships around the valley. Please tell us about some of these.
Donna – We have won the “Taste of Ashland” award for the last three years and we are known for both our Prime Rib and our Lodge Smoked Salmon. We smoke salmon twice a week. It is uniquely moist and flavorful. It is so special that it is incorporated into menu items at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as in the very popular Smoked Salmon Appetizer Platter.
Jennifer – We very proud of our kitchen, our Chef, Mike Leimas, and the tremendous job he and his team do to make dining at Callahan’s a truly memorable experience. This last year we held two wine dinners and I think we have set the bar in the Valley for pairing wine with food in an intimate and gorgeous setting. We have teamed with two local wineries in the last year and have plans to make wine, beer and special dining nights a monthly affair at the Lodge.
Donna, I don’t know of any other event / hospitality business who puts as much detail in to the planning of their business you do. Please take us behind the scenes.
Donna – The hours and personal attention given to detail means everything to our guests. As owners, we are here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is never a detail too small or a request we can’t find a way to accommodate. From the moment you call us, through your event or ceremony, until you check out we are there to make sure everything is exactly as you planned it. It’s our passion and we share it with all our guests.
Tim and Jennifer – Wow! It was literally a winter wonderland – and yes it was a “snow day.” It was one of the days that proved how loyal and resilient both our guests and our staff are to this Lodge. We woke up with no power and 40 guests waiting for breakfast. The roads to Callahan’s were clear, but our staff were stuck in their own driveways. Tim cooked breakfast, we served breakfast by candle light. All 40 guests had a true “Mountain Lodge Experience.” A local TV station even came up to do live interviews with our “stranded” guests and our guests could not stop talking about how exciting the whole morning had been. It was a special morning for all of us.
I also heard something about losing water on the same day?
Donna and Jennifer – Yes! We lost our main water line! We were completely booked for the night and now we had no power and no water. We made the decision to personally call each reservation and explain we would be closed for the day and help them reserve another day. This was the first time in 20 years we had to close due to a combination of weather, water and power issues.
That was when it became surreal. We have always believed that Callahan’s was more than just a restaurant and rooms. We had guests with reservations tell us they were coming anyway. We told them again we had no power and no water and no staff. They told us they understood and would see us soon!
That night was when the wonderland of the whole story happened. Our reservations arrived and we checked them into their rooms with plenty of firewood and lanterns. At about 5 PM our power came back on! We quickly huddled and decided Ron would make dinner for us and all our guests. He made a fabulous dinner of Country Fried Steak and Mashed Potatoes. It was five minutes after the last guest finished their meal when the power went out again. We spent the rest of our evening in front of the fireplace grateful for the day and our guests.
Ron – We have always said that only about 70% of our master plan for the Lodge resort is finished. Now with four of us working, we are moving forward to completing that vision. Four rooms will be added to the lodge, standalone cabins on the perimeter will be built and 23 acres are set aside to be developed into a campground. Our vision is for Callahan’s to be a complete destination resort year-round and for every season.
Donna – I am looking forward to growing our events and weddings with my sister and partner, Jennifer. With her experience and expertise in planning events/staging beautiful and unique rooms and my 20 years of on-the-job experience, I believe we are looking at an extraordinary future.
Jennifer – This is such an exciting time for the four of us, the staff and the community. We are continuing the tradition. The support from everyone is overwhelming. I look forward to the creation of another 20-plus years of memories.
Tim – Callahan’s offers a very unique opportunity to be a destination resort, a traveler stop and a regular local favorite – a place that offers a one-of-a-kind experience in Southern Oregon. There really are very few Oregon family-operated and -owned businesses left of any kind, let alone a Mountain Lodge that has stayed for 70 years. I look forward to telling that story to as many people as I can reach, and I look forward to upholding the tradition and reputation that Callahan’s Mountain lodge has achieved.
Are there any last words or comments you would like to share?
We are here because our guests and our community have been coming for 70 years. Without this community and family of guests who join us year after year to validate our efforts we are nothing. It is through your kind words, comments, reviews and just showing up that reinforces our success. This means the world to us. If you are one of our regular guests, thank you! If you have not been here in years, come back and say “Hi”. If you have never been here, then come and discover our secret, our hidden gem. We are always honored when you choose to join us. See you on the mountain!
Callahan’s Mountain Lodge
Interstate 5 at Exit 6, the Mount Ashland Exit