Biscuits, Barbecue & More

Story and photos by Drew Myron

How do you measure success?

On a busy weekend, Justin White and Leila Coe make 150 biscuits for diners in their bustling cafe.

In 150 biscuits, according to Leila Coe and Justin White.

At 5 a.m., the duo is making, baking and keeping busy hours before the first hungry customers pack their popular Parkdale cafe.

Since it opened in November 2022, Baseline Biscuits has fed a steady stream of hungry locals and curious tourists. The
bustling business means the couple turns out 60 to 150 made-from-scratch biscuits daily.

“He makes gravy. I make biscuits,” Leila says with a smile. “I love it. It’s definitely hard work, but feeding people makes us happy.”

Named after the main street running through town, Baseline Biscuits fills a niche.

“There’s no place to have breakfast. It’s here or go to Hood River,” Leila says of the 15-mile divide.

Baseline dishes up Southern favorites including biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, and chicken fried steak, along with a host of creative cocktails. Meals run $10 to $16 and offer generous portions.

“The food is fantastic,” says Bobby Saunters, who lives a few blocks from the restaurant. “I’m a self-proclaimed biscuits and gravy expert, and consider Baseline Biscuits to be the best in the state. I also love the shrimp and grits, and the huevos rancheros. I’m also known to have a mimosa at 8 a.m.

“But what really keeps me coming back every week is the sense of community you get when eating there. It’s a light-hearted, social environment.”

Lindsey Smith, who works as a server, agrees.

“I love it here,” she says. “It’s small and local. It’s like a mom and pop shop. Everyone knows everyone.”

Although it has been occupied by several food-service businesses, the building that houses Baseline Biscuits and Mt. Hood Creamery was originally a service station.

Baseline Biscuits is the couple’s latest success in a series of food ventures that includes Apple Valley Country Store, Apple Valley BBQ and Mt. Hood Creamery.

Leila and Justin run the longstanding and still-popular Apple Valley Country Store at the bend of Tucker Road and Dee Highway. The farm store was founded in 1989 by Justin’s parents, Bob and Kaye.

The Whites were living in Arizona when they vacationed in Oregon and fell in love with the Hood River Valley. One year
later, they packed up the family and made Parkdale their home.

A promoter of the area’s agricultural bounty, Kaye created the Hood River Fruit Loop, a self-guided tour of farms, orchards, vineyards, wineries and fruit stands she launched in 1992. Thirty years later, the Fruit Loop is a driving force for tourism in the Hood River Valley.

As a teen, Justin grew up working at Apple Valley Country Store. In 2005, he took over the business from his parents, who still live in the area. Today, the store is well-known for its pies, jams and syrups, and offers online shopping.

In 2011, Justin opened Apple Valley BBQ. The popular Parkdale restaurant dishes up hearty Northwest-style barbecue
with a menu of pulled pork, ribs, chicken, burgers, smoked prime rib and more.

Just a few doors down the couple opened Baseline Biscuits. The space was previously occupied by Blue Canoe, a cafe; and before that, Alabama Jim’s Long Shot, a diner.

Historically, the place operated as a service station. The building retains its narrow interior and long-armed awning that now serves as patio cover.

Within the cozy space, the couple recently debuted Mt. Hood Creamery, a seasonal offering of homemade ice cream with creative blends crafted by Leila.

Leila creates ice creams and sorbets with local ingredients.

Leila sources local fresh fruit and partners with local entrepreneurs to make tasty and unusual combinations.

“It’s fun,” she says. “You get to be creative and make what you want.”

Moby mocha chip, for example, is infused with shots of espresso from Moby Coffee Roasters, located around the corner. Marionberry habanero uses jam from Apple Valley Country Store. Lazy lemon sorbet features lemon balm from Mother Mullein Herbs, another Parkdale business.

“Parkdale is just great,” Justin says, noting how the small town’s self-starters assists one another. “That’s why we survived COVID, everyone supporting us. COVID was a real eye-opener. Things can change in a minute.”

For Leila and Justin, things changed in 2012, when they met online. Leila was living in Bend, working as bar manager for Sun River Resorts. The 2 foodies clicked right away, and Leila soon joined Justin in Parkdale.

Together, the couple now operate 2 restaurants, a store and an ice cream business, managing dozens of employees. When not working together, they play together. They recently took a blacksmithing class. In keeping with the cooking theme, they like to make knives.

They also make time for community work. Leila is president of the board of directors for Hutson Museum, and the couple serve on the Fruit Loop steering committee.

“We’re pretty much together 24 hours a day,” Leila says. “We’re doing what we love.”

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