The Open Range at Pinehurst Inn

Come to Pinehurst Inn not only to savor its playful take on comfort food but to be completely charmed.

Owners Denise and Donnie Rowlett are known for their quirky sense of humor. They keep it front and center with an irreverent sculpture marking the way to their establishment off Highway 66 outside of Ashland.

Admittedly, "Open Range" is the work of another prankster posting to the Internet, where the Rowletts stumbled upon the joke several years ago. After noticing and then reinstalling a similar road sign lying in the highway's ditch, the couple made its double-entendre unmistakable by pairing a broken-down appliance with the notice of "open range."

"People stop every day and take pictures," says Donnie Rowlett.

In place for three years, the installation intrigues inn customers and Oregon Department of Transportation workers alike. To complete the effect, the Rowletts started calling their restaurant The Open Range at Pinehurst Inn about two years ago and are in the process of converting business logos and contact information to reflect the change.

The Rowletts' anything-goes attitude encourages overnight guests to wander around the inn wearing pajamas and to join sing-alongs at the common room's Baldwin piano. There are no televisions, Internet, phones or alarm clocks in the five guest rooms. Predictably, old-fashioned furnishings, including handmade quilts and claw-foot bathtubs, decorate the inn, which is closing in on 90 years of sheltering and feeding travelers.

Recommended: Cherry cola-glazed baby-back ribs, served the first full weekend of the month, are so popular that diners reserve portions days ahead of time; one third-pound burger for just a dollar recently rewarded customer loyalty; don't skip the bread basket — fresh-baked English-muffin bread is a specialty served with every meal

Alternative diets: A couple of vegetarian pasta dishes complement steak and seafood selections; the Rowletts unapologetically point vegans down the mountain toward town.

Beverages: Local and other domestic wines are available by the glass and bottle, house wines by the glass, carafe and half-carafe; bring your own bottle for a $10 corkage fee; bottled beers; full bar; sodas; coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Price range: Entrees, $10 to $32 and served with soup or salad; "great value meals," $7; desserts; $4 to $9

Extras: Menu changes each week; specials for holidays and customer birthdays and anniversaries; check weather reports and road conditions for winding mountain byway through the Greensprings.

Serving: From 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Info: 17250 Highway 66, about 23 miles outside of Ashland; 541-488-1002;

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