A long-standing Union Gap eatery, Jean’s Cottage Inn, turns 75 years old in 2021. Located on Main Street, Jean’s Cottage Inn is currently known as a fantastic place to get a steak or burger with a great family atmosphere.

Jean's Cottage Inn
Allan Marks in front of the original Tick-Tock clock. Photo courtesy: Jean’s Cottage Inn

In 1946, Bob and Jean Boyd founded The Tick-Tock, a restaurant located in a building currently standing kitty-corner from Jean’s Cottage Inn. It started as a hot dog stand that included T-bone steaks and eventually added more items to its menu. With its principles of quality and value, The Tick-Tock quickly became successful, attracting both locals and travelers alike.

When Bob passed away in 1962, the building where the restaurant currently resides became available, and Jean and her son Ron Boyd moved the business across the street. Ron and his wife Betty became Jean’s Cottage Inn managers shortly after that and continued to manage the business into the 1990s.

Ron came to know a young man named Allan Marks through a web of mutual friends and family. Originally from the Yakima area, Allan had moved to Florida and planned on moving back home when Ron called and offered him the newly opened cook position upon returning from the east coast.

Jean's Cottage Inn
Old newspaper clippings of Jean’s Cottage Inn ads. Photo courtesy: Jean’s Cottage Inn

In 1997, Ron proposed the idea of running the restaurant to Allan on the condition that it was something that he wanted to do and offered a three-year lease.

Two years later, Ron and Allan agreed for him to buy Jean’s Cottage Inn. In 2000, Allan and his wife Kristi took over the business and continued quality food at a value price tradition.

As with all businesses, Jean’s Cottage Inn had many troubles of its own, and Allan and Kristi have used their entrepreneurial spirit to overcome all their obstacles. “We thought we were doomed (when mad cow disease made news) because we had only been owners for a year when that hit,” says Allan. “We put a saying on our sign that said, ‘Our Beef Has Had Anger Management.’ That made national news for us.”

The couple continued to shift gears when needed. “When the housing market crash hit in 2008, that was a tough one,” says Allan. “We thought that we should either be open on weekends or just for breakfast. We decided to only go with breakfast at the time, which turned out to be a big thing for us.”

Jean's Cottage Inn
Allan and Kristi Marks in front of Jean’s Cottage Inn. Photo courtesy: Jean’s Cottage Inn

Then COVID hit last year and the restaurateurs made lemonade out of lemons. “Thankfully, we paid off our loan three years earlier, or it would have been really tough,” Allan adds. “Our customers are really great to us. They started to order carryout from us, but we decided to put some chairs out in the gravel, and that turned out to be popular. So, we decided to put a concrete slab out there and made a patio. We put up a fence and covered it up with sail panels. And then, this spring, we put a roof on the patio and have what seems to be like a second restaurant out there.”

The challenges continued but the pair always finds a way to make things work. “Then this past February beef prices started to go up, something like 140%…about two and a half times what we previously paid for it,” shares Allan. “We cut our own meat in-house in order to keep our prices down. The T-bones are what we’re known for, of course. We don’t have much in the way of employee turnover here, so there isn’t a lot of reason for us to raise our prices that much.”

Jean's Cottage Inn
Allan Marks and Deccio’s Seasonings. Photo courtesy: Jean’s Cottage Inn

After 75 years, Jean’s Cottage Inn has overcome difficulties but always cared for the community that supports them. “Since we’re in our 75th year in business, we’re going to be giving away 75 meals in 75 days, as well as planning to give away a television around Christmas time,” shares Allan.

Jean’s Cottage Inn is not the only business the couple owns. The other company they run is Deccio’s Seasoning. “We bought that in 2005. Wray’s Meats distributes for us in the valley, and we get a lot of orders online from places as far away as Wisconsin and New York,” says Allan. “I do the mixing of the seasonings, and Kristi does the shipping. She doesn’t trust me with that!”

Through it all, it’s the customer’s support that keeps Jean’s Cottage Inn as the charming staple in town. “We have a great customer base. They’re like friends to us.” Kristi adds. “One guy we have coming in we call ‘Daily Don.’ Every morning he comes in for coffee and will come in for lunch a little later. He moved up here twenty years ago and runs a business down the street. He’s very consistent. He has a certain meal that he eats for each day of the week. We really love our customers!”

Allan and Kristi Marks invite you to join them during the week at Jean’s Cottage Inn for one of their specialty T-bone steaks and hope that you’ll help to keep them in business for another 75 years to come!

Jean’s Cottage Inn
3211 Main St.
Union Gap

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