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Friends of long-time Bend restaurateur Kayo Oakley look back on his legacy

(Update: Adding video, quotes from former employee, acquaintance)

Son says: 'My dad would give his shirt off his back to anyone who needed it'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Since a long-time restaurateur in Bend passed away during the weekend, people who knew him are honoring his memory online.

Kayo Oakley, who owned Kayo’s Dinner House and Lounge on Northeast Third Street in Bend, passed away Saturday night, according to a Facebook post by his son, Kaysen Oakley.

The post said, “I don’t know a single person who didn’t love my father, and I say that because my dad would give his shirt off his back to anyone who needed it...I know he has touched everybody’s heart one way or another and I ask for you to hold onto those memories and tell them often.”

Oakley first established Kayo's Dinner House and Lounge on Powers Road in 1982.

After he lost the lease, he went on to open a family-style restaurant called Kayo's Roadhouse, with a location in downtown Redmond and in Northeast Bend, where The Phoenix Restaurant now stands.

Oakley later opened another restaurant, Kayo's Sports Bar and Grill, in southeast Bend.

After selling the roadhouses and the sports bar, Oakley reopened his original dinner house on Northeast Third Street.

“He lived his life his way and he had the biggest heart,” Jodi Black, one of Oakley’s former employees, said Monday.

Black said she worked at the Dinner House and Lounge for about 16 years.

“There’s no replacing a friendship like you had with Kayo,” she said. “I’m definitely a richer person for having him in my life.”

Jackie Johnson first met Oakley in 1978, when she was working as a waitress at Jake’s Copper Room in downtown Bend. The business is no longer there, but Johnson said she still has fond memories of Oakley’s visits. 

“I was the happy hour waitress, and Kayo and a bunch of real estate guys used to come and hang out here, and watch sports and football games,” Johnson recalled. 

Johnson later worked for a local radio station and was given the opportunity to visit Oakley’s first restaurant, located on Powers Road, for a lobster dinner.

“Kayo insisted I eat the roe, and I didn’t even know what the roe was,” Johnson said.

She said she has dined in all of his establishments. And while his food never disappointed, it was the way Oakley entertained his customers that stood out to her.

“You could see him back there cooking, and it’s steaming,” Johnson said. “Next thing you know, he’d be at your table going, ‘Hey, how are you? How are you doing? How’s the food?’ He was an original, he really was.”

Oakley’s family said it will hold a private funeral service this weekend, with a public celebration of life planned for the near future.

Business / Central Oregon / News / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.

Comments

9 Comments

  1. My family and I loved this man. He was a kind soul with high standards. He treated all his customers like kings. And we felt his love from his food.

    This is such a loss for our community. That man was the best. He will be remembered.

  2. My sincere condolences to the family. When I worked at a local children’s charity, he was one of the few guys that came by and said “Oh, you need xyz, ok.” The, as quickly as he left, he returned with all the items we needed. He left us gift certs to give the families gift certificates so they could have a quick break on him, while waiting for their child to recover at St Charles. Great man, as many have said, and a model for newcomers to the area and future leaders alike. Rest in peace Kayo.

  3. There was a time in about 1996, at his old place, that he cooked me and a friend a dinner at about 1:00 am. He didn’t know me but he hooked us up with some great seafood! RIP Kayo!

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