Siltcoos Resort Continues to ‘Sparkle’
Darling’s Marina & RV Resort, located just South of Florence, is the epitome of what a thriving and successful small business looks like. Owned and run by the Olson family, Darling’s is a hidden gem on the Oregon coast that offers lakefront dining and RV camping for tourists from near and far.
Rich and Lori Olson, the owners of the business, transformed the abandoned and neglected property into a lakeside resort that continues to grow and improve year over year.
“When we first came to see it, we sat down and looked at that view and thought it had so much potential,” says Lori Olson. “And it deserved to be shared,” chimes in Rich Olson.
Darling’s Marina is not only a hotspot destination, it’s a historical site as well. Founded around 1923, Addie and Jess Darling built the resort before there were roads to reach it and was only accessible by lake.
By the time the Olsons acquired the property in 2015, it had changed hands twice over 9 decades and was in desperate need of restoration. At the time, the tavern was completely shut down and tourists didn’t consider it an enticing destination.
Through hard work and each family member’s different strengths, the Olsons and their 4 children transformed the campground into what it is today.
“It just keeps turning into what it’s meant to be,” says Lori Olson.
In the beginning, they didn’t consider having a restaurant. But based on local demand from the community, Lori Olson rolled up her sleeves and stepped up to the plate, despite never having worked in a commercial kitchen before.
“I was cooking all my grandma’s recipes. We had all this old equipment that kept catching on fire and I’d use this house-style grill to make pancakes…[Over the years], everytime we would lose a cook, we’d have to reinvent the kitchen,” she says.
Fortunately, in 2019, Darling’s partnered with Craig’s BBQ to offer a true smokehouse experience to diners. They’re now known for their barbeque, family-friendly atmosphere, and incredible views.
The Olsons may be a family-run business, but each of their employees become part of their tight-knit crew as well. For example, Tristin Pound-Roane has worked as their head waitress and bartender for nearly 6 years.
“We hired the best waitress on the planet,” says Lori Olson. “With the most personality,” Rich Olson adds without skipping a beat.
With such a harmonious relationship between staff and community, it’s clear Darling’s is here to stay.
To celebrate their centennial this year, Cajun Olson, the General Manager, and Chase Olson have created a time capsule of items gathered from the community. They plan to brick the time capsule into the fireplace between the store and the restaurant. There is currently no consensus on when they’ll open it.
Their biggest event of the year is still coming. Aptly named ‘Sparkle on the Siltcoos,’ Darling’s hosts a fireworks show that gets sold out each year.
The upcoming show will occur this year on July 1 with a live performance from Jessie Leigh, an up and coming country singer, from 6 to 10PM.
“The biggest challenge is we don’t have a lot of space. Everyone wants to come…it [has gotten] so big that we had to start limiting it,” says Lori Olson.
Although they are sold out for 200 general admission tickets already, interested parties can still view the show from their boats on Siltcoos or from neighboring houses.
Darling’s will be open to the public until 4PM on July 1. The regular hours for their restaurant are Wednesday to Sunday 11AM to 8PM and they are located at 4879 Darling’s Loop Florence, Oregon 97439.