RAM Restaurant & Brewery abruptly closes, searches for new location

Salem’s RAM Restaurant & Brewery abruptly closed Tuesday, shocking longtime patrons of one of the city’s oldest restaurants. 

The restaurant’s owners said the over 50-year-old establishment was no longer viable at that location. Jeff Iverson, the CEO of Lakewood, Washington-based RAM Restaurant Group, said the company decided to close the Salem location because the restaurant wasn’t doing well. The company has 13 restaurants in Wilsonville and Medford as well as in Idaho and Washington.

The business, at 515 12th St. S.E., was frequented by Willamette University students.

“There were a number of factors that no longer made this location a viable endeavor,” Iverson said. “We have been searching for a new location and will continue to do so.”

Iverson did not elaborate on the factors which contributed to the closure. In response to a question about how many employees were let go, Iverson did not give a number and declined to say how many people the company employed in Salem.

“Some have transferred to another location and we are awaiting to hear back from some,” Iverson said. “Our intent was to remain open for a week of ‘celebrations and thank yous’ but after speaking with the team Tuesday morning it became apparent that that would not be possible.”

Iverson said ideally the employees from the former RAM location would be rehired once the company finds a new suitable location. He said the company is looking for a 4,500 to 6,000 square foot building with existing restaurant infrastructure in Salem or the surrounding areas.

The building is owned by the Salem Ram Cafe Land Company, which is also managed by Iverson and headquartered in Lakewood, Washington. The company owns its Salem location, which opened in the early 1970s. It was one of the first microbreweries in Salem.

Iverson said the Salem location is the only restaurant out of the 13 locations the company operated to close down. 

Iverson added “a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our Salem friends for allowing RAM to serve them for 50-plus years.” 

The brewpub’s location was a gathering place in Salem beginning in the 1940s, according to the Willamette Heritage Center. That location was originally converted from an auto service station into a gas station and beer parlor by its proprietors, Walter Goughnour and Merle Pruett.

Clarification: This story originally said Salem RAM building is owned by the restaurant company. The building is owned by a related company called Salem Ram Cafe Land Company, which is also managed by Jeff Iverson and headquartered at the same company address in Lakewood, Washington.

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790.

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.