Old world inspiration pairs with new twists at Off Bay Street Bistro

Dec. 7, 2019 — Florence has a wide array of restaurants that offer many types of cuisine and decor for the enjoyment of their customers. The latest addition to these widely differing takes on food and fun is The Off Bay Street Bistro, located at 165 Maple St. in Historic Old Town Florence.

Paul Meeker is head chef and owner of the new restaurant and he was pleased when the opportunity to operate his own eatery presented itself.

“I have been in the restaurant industry for 20 plus years, including as a culinary arts teacher, and have been dreaming of my owning my own restaurant for a while,” Paul said. “My girlfriend, Kim, also has 20 plus years in the restaurant industry. When we heard of Maple Street Grill selling, we were enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity.”

Paul and Kim are both involved in all aspects of the restaurant, and the two have extensive culinary experience which they have been waiting to share with the public. Off Bay Street Bistro is the manifestation of this long-held dream.

Another aspect that Paul considered when deciding on a location for the restaurant was its proximity to Bay Street, the main street in Florence’s Historic Old Town.

“Bay Street has a lot to offer to the tourists with great shops and restaurants. However, there is an interest in letting people know there are also great shops and restaurants on the streets nearby as well,” he said. “The location for me was perfect. Off of Bay street but still close.”

Off Bay Street Bistro is housed in a beautiful two-story building that has the feel more of a home than a restaurant. The décor is evocative of a European café and traditional jazz floats around the warm open interior space. Intriguing aromas waft from the open kitchen into the well-appointed dining area. The work being done by the restaurant’s chefs is a part of the visual entertainment afforded diners.

“The European feel to the restaurant is not by chance,” Paul said. “Kim is from France and has helped with the decor. We also chose to do paninis, something Florence didn’t have. Our weekly dinner specials are inspired by my southern background, as I’m from Florida, Kim’s European background and other multicultural influences.”

The menu at the Off Bay Street Bistro has some delicious breakfast and lunch items on the evolving menu, but one of the unique cooking techniques utilized at the bistro revolves round an always popular food, pizza.

“The wood burning brick oven was a plus. Meshing with our focus on fresh ingredients, we offer a nice European-style pizza. The closest brick oven pizza is in Reedsport or in Yachats. It is exciting to be able to offer one to Florence,” Paul said.