Mo's Restaurants - History


Mo's first opened on the Newport bay front in 1946 as "Freddie & Mo's"β€”a 24 hour restaurant that served the local loggers and fisherman such fare as spaghetti and steaks. Niemi's business partner Freddie Kent became ill a few years later and Niemi bought out her partner's shares of the restaurant. In the following years Mo's served more and more seafood, the clam chowder recipe evolved over time as the cooks would vie with each other to produce a better version.

Over time Mo's would become a favorite, not just of locals, but of tourists and celebrities as well. Mo's second husband, retired fisherman Kaino "Dutch" Niemi along with friends often gathered at a table contributing to the "family" atmosphere of the restaurant.

Great-granddaughter of Mo, Gabrielle McEntee-Wilson recalls in an interview "Granny Mo" saying (in regards to Mo's popularity) "The hippies discovered Mo's" during the 'sixties." According to McEntee-Wilson "It (Mo's) wasn't a conceptβ€”it grew on its own and changed over time."

Henry Fonda, Paul Newman and other cast members of the film Sometimes a Great Notion (based on a novel by Ken Kesey about a dysfunctional family of Oregon coast loggers) ate there during location filming. Mo appears in one scene of the film as an extra. The scene was filmed in Newport's Bayhaven Inn, (renamed the The Snag in the film). Mo and her father once owned the Inn in the early 1940s.

Oregon Governor Tom McCall and Senator Mark Hatfield and other Oregon politicians ate there as well. In 1973 Audrey McCall, wife of the Governor, arranged for the spouses of the Governors attending the Western Governors' Conference to have lunch at Mo's on the waterfront.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel also visited the restaurant while he was campaigning for the Democratic Party 1968 Oregon primary election on May 24, 1968.

The original Newport Mo's has an unusual front wall for a restaurant. One day a customer accidentally left her car in forward gear instead of reverse while leaving and crashed through the front wall. Mo consoled the woman, saying, "Well, we'll just put in a garage door so we can open it and you can drive in anytime if that's what you want to do". On warm sunny days the door is opened transforming Mo's into a sidewalk cafe. The door itself, pictured at right, remains basically unchanged since its installation and features a picture on its interior showing a woman driving her car through the door, an alarmed look on her face.

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