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  • Gresham Outlook

    Helfer’s on 3rd brings gourmet dogs, family-friendly fun to Downtown Gresham

    By Christopher Keizur,

    30 days ago

    A longtime Gresham couple knew something was missing from the local restaurant scene.

    Jake and Kimberly Helfer had their kids graduate from the Centennial School District, and both were active with sports. That meant a lot of evenings in the gym cheering on Eagles volleyball and basketball. And plenty more car rides debating what to do for dinner.

    “Whenever we would get done with those sporting events there was nowhere for us to go,” Jake said.

    “You can only have McDonald’s so many times,” Kimberly added with a laugh.

    So years later, when an opportunity came, they leapt with both feet.

    “We felt we had this great opportunity to offer something to Gresham families,” Jake said.

    Helfer’s on 3rd, which opened its doors in April, is a family-friendly restaurant that specializes in gourmet hot dogs and burgers, with a full-service bar, located in the former Uly’s Taco Bar, 124 N.E. Third St., in Downtown Gresham.

    “We want this to be the local hangout spot, where you can feel safe and comfortable with your family,” Kimberly said.

    “Quality food for a really good price,” Jake added.

    What buoyed the couple is their business background. This is their fourth business in Gresham, and Kimberly still owns and operates Players Sports Bar & Grill, 508 N.E. Division St.

    “We knew about running a bar, but had to figure out the restaurant side of things,” she said.

    The menu continues to evolve. There are nine different styles of hotdogs to choose from (including vegetarian or turkey dogs), including: the Chicago, featuring Windy City-approved mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, sport peppers and celery salt; the New York with sauerkraut; Seattle with cream cheese; Coney with chili; and the Todd “Mr. Gresham” Kirnan-approved version with fried potatoes and ranch.

    “Todd came in and helped us come up with his namesake dog,” Jake said.

    There are shareable appetizers like jalapeño poppers and mozzarella sticks; burgers; hand-dipped corn dogs; and decadent milkshakes.

    “We are always adding to the menu, like our salads because people were asking for that option,” Jake said. “We listen to our customers.”

    True to the mission of appealing to families, there is a kids menu; Saturdays have had live music; and dogs are welcome to sit out on the patio.

    Friday and Saturday mornings Helfer’s opens at 9 a.m. to serve breakfast — the beloved chicken fried steak is available all hours of the week. Helfer’s has “Meatloaf Monday” and “Taco Thursday.”

    “Not everyone wants them on Tuesday,” Kimberly said.

    There are also specials. On Gresham Farmers Market Saturdays, which sets up a block away from Helfer’s, you can get hot dog or burger combos. And during downtown events like Third Thursdays they have other offerings.

    Being so close to the Arts Plaza has been a boon for the burgeoning restaurant. It is something of a haven for parents. Recently a group of dad’s came in for “a quick shot” as a respite from the chaotic fun of being at the Splash Pad. About 20 minutes later, the mom’s arrived for their breather.

    “We have had so many people reach out and be supportive, we appreciate all of them,” Kimberly said.

    “It can be hard to stay alive as a small business owner, but Downtown Gresham looks out for each other,” Jake added.

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