Utility workers from as far away as Illinois were being treated to meals at Hitchin’ Post (Submitted).
Keith Wright, owner of the Hitchin’ Post north of Keizer, always admired and appreciated the service of lineworkers. For the last three years, whenever he sees a lineworker eating at his restaurant in uniform after a long day, Wright will provide them with a free meal.
After an unprecedented ice storm took out power in many homes in the area earlier this month, Portland General Electric (PGE) workers have been flooding Salem-Keizer to restore electricity in the community.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on local restaurants and small businesses, Wright has remained thankful that he has been able to stay open over the last year.
When Hitchin’ Post got their power restored on Tuesday, Feb. 16, Wright wanted to do something for the lineworkers to show his gratitude.
“We have actually been very blessed during the pandemic, so we wanted to give back,” Wright said.
Wright reached out to PGE and told the company that Hitchin’ Post would be providing free breakfast and dinner to any lineworker starting on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Since then, the restaurant has been hosting dozens of lineworkers at a time on their back patio for a free meal.
“This is something we wanted to do to show our thanks for what they have done to help our community,” Wright said. “Without these guys, we probably wouldn’t even be open yet. But they are working crappy hours in crappy weather and we just felt compelled to do something for them.”
Wright has prided himself on giving the best his restaurant has to offer to the lineworkers, often serving prime rib and New York steak and lobster dinners to the hungry crew — Hitchin’ Post hosted just over 50 workers for a steak dinner on Friday, Feb. 19. Wright has also hosted workers from California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Illinois and Canada, who are assisting PGE in the process of restoring power.
“Word has gotten around and they are taking advantage like they should,” Wright said.
Wright hasn’t acted alone in this effort to benefit lineworkers. He has received generous cash donations from Log House Garden, Loren’s Sanitation, and Bob and Pam Zielinski. Keizerite’s Mike Ebner, owner of Ebner’s Custom Meats in Canby, has also provided workers with boxed lunches to take out on duty.
“The Keizer community is full of people that want to help,” Wright said.
As of Monday, Feb. 22, Hitchin’ Post had covered over $5,000 in meal tabs for lineworkers.
“We don’t care what the ending dollar amount is. This was something we committed to do. We are here to take care of them,” Wright said.