ADDRESS: Campus: 2525 NW Monroe, Corvallis, OR
Downtown: 214 SW 2nd Street, Corvallis, OR
PHONE NUMBER: Campus: 541-757-1713
OWNER: Scott McFarland
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 1989 – present
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 80
WHAT THEY SELL: Pizza
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: For great pizza!
Few things are as pleasing to eat as pizza. Even fewer things are as pleasing to eat as pizza from American Dream. Friendly staff, visually pleasing restaurants, and fantastic cookies (made fresh daily) all make the experience of eating there that much more enjoyable. With two locations in Corvallis, American Dream is accessible and well worth a lunchtime visit.
Scott, when and why did you decide to start your business? In 1985, I was out of college and working as a bartender. I grew up in the restaurant business, and decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship. It’s been a struggle at times, but this endeavor has had a really fulfilling turnout.
Tell us more about your products and services. The heart of American Dream is definitely pizza, but there are also other aspects to it. Our motto is “Music, Art, Beer, and Pizza”, and we do everything we can to live up to each part of it. You can see the walls in our restaurants display art by our customers, and we always have music playing. We also just opened a brewery, Sky High Brewing, on Jackson, so now we can serve our beer at our restaurants. Pizza is definitely the largest part of our business, though.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? Well, I’m flattered, and it’s great to be featured. This is supporting not just my business, but all independent businesses in Corvallis. Corvallis has developed an independent business culture, and the whole town is really supportive of it. I’m mostly just glad to be able to support that.
Do you fill an unusual niche? What does your business do better than anyone else? We take great care of our customers and employees, and I think that has created an energy in our establishment that people really respond positively to. We’re committed to working hard, we don’t rest on our laurels, and we always put people before profits.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner, and how have you met those challenges? In any business, you’re only as good as your last day, so meeting payroll is always a bit of a hurdle. There are good years and less-good years, but we’ve always managed to stay afloat.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis, and what does the future look like for the local independents? The impact of independent businesses in Corvallis is huge; they totally set the tone for the town. There’s been an explosion in the last decade of these local independent businesses, and this explosion has shaped the culture of Corvallis to be really small business oriented. I think there are going to be even more local independents in the future.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? What excites or inspires you, makes you keep changing, improving? There are two really great things about owning an independent business: 1) freedom, and 2) community support. As an independent business, we don’t have a corporate body to tell us what to do. Control of business hours, payroll management, and product varieties are all perks. When one of the employees has an idea to make something better, we can try it; we don’t have to go through the bureaucratic mess of an executive chain for permission. Corvallis, in particular, is a town very supportive of independent businesses, and we literally could not do this without the support of our customers. We’re thankful for that.
What is your relationship to the community? Our relationship to the community is one in which we support just about every cause that comes to us, and we are as large a part of the community as possible. It’s our way of doing our part for Corvallis.
How many people do you employ? Do you think your employees are better off working for a local independent rather than a chain? Why? We employ about 80 people at both of our restaurants in town. I definitely believe that our employees are better off working here than for a chain. At American Dream, we listen to our employees and value their opinions about how to improve our business, and we pay them more than the bare minimum wage. Our mission statement here is simple: create good jobs.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. It’s about the people, both customers and employees.
(Interview and article by Bryce Benson – July 22, 2014)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).