May 25, 2005
Pasquale’s Ristorante, a familiar gathering spot for locals and tourists alike, will be recieving a new look and new menu during the next month. The well-known restaurant, located in the Hood River Hotel on Oak Street, is in the process of becoming Cornerstone Cuisine.
“This is the last leg in a five-year plan,” said Patricia Byrnes, accounts manager for the Hood River Hotel. The plan that she’s talking about involves a complete renovation of the hotel — most of which has already been done, but generally remains unseen by locals. “Pasquale’s is a meeting place for locals, so this is what the locals will see the most,” she said.
Pasquale’s Ristorante was named for Pasquale Barone, the man who renovated the restaurant in 1988-89. With the recent attention surrounding Barone’s legal difficulties with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, people may be quick to assume that the restaurant no longer wanted to be associated with him; but Byrnes says that this is not the case.
“Pasquale was actually at Bite of the Gorge when we presented the idea,” she said. “He was delighted to hear about the change, and I hope he’s back by the time we open.”
Although the idea was only recently unveiled, it has been in the works for a while. “When I started here three years ago, I could tell that people wanted change,” said executive chef Mark Whitehead. “We started changing from Italian foods to more Northwest flavors, and since we are no longer an Italian restaurant, the name ‘Pasquale’s’ doesn’t fit.”
Lunch and dinner menu items include “Cornerstone Seafood Station,” offering a choice of two out of five options, Reuben sandwich, crab cake sandwich, turkey focaccia, gnocchi, blackened shrimp penne, chili honey-glazed salmon, and peppercorn rubbed New York steak.
The transformation from Pasquale’s to Cornerstone Cuisine will be gradual, and the restaurant will not close at all during the remodel — in fact, the customers are actually redesigning the restaurant themselves.
“The diners have been directly involved with the remodeling,” said Byrnes. “We would show them different colors during dinner and ask them which ones they liked. It’s really the diner that’s redesigning.”
The diners are not only helping select the colors and decor, but they also helped name the new restaurant. “We had a bunch of names that we were leaning toward, and Cornerstone wasn’t one of them,” said Whitehead. “But someone wrote it in on one of the ballots and it started to catch on. Eventually, it went to the whole staff, and that’s what we decided. We’re still a historic building, and we want to keep that. The name suits it.”