December 2022

Elmers RestaurantIt was July 1986, and I parked my car on NE Sixth Street ready to sell ads for the Sneak Preview, a newspaper that I hoped would take Grants Pass by storm. The very first place I entered was Carl’s Jr., located at the corner of Sixth and Hillcrest. The owners, Dave and Doneta Thomason, were both there working the business, which was their first franchise. They were receptive to the idea of a newspaper to challenge the daily, but they wanted to see how things worked out first, and they eventually became good advertisers.

Here it is almost 37 years later, and both the Sneak Preview and the Thomasons are still going strong.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business since 1973 when I was 16 years old and have been in multiple levels of management,” Dave said. “Doneta and I came from Anaheim to the Rogue Valley in 1985 and opened the first Carl’s Jr. Restaurants in Oregon in 1986. We were awarded the Southern Oregon territory to be franchise owners of Carl’s Jr, which was started by Doneta’s uncle, Carl Karcher.”

Since then, Thomason Hospitality has branched out and been involved with a number of restaurants in over 60 locations, including Elmer’s, Taprock Northwest Grill, Human Bean, Pita Pit, Purple Parrots, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Carl’s Jr., & Blimpie’s Sandwiches.

“Over the years, all of our children have worked in numerous brands,” Dave said. “Locally, we’re most proud of Southern Oregon Elmer’s, both here in Grants Pass at 175 NE Agness and in Medford, Albany, Eugene, Roseburg and Springfield. Elmer’s has been around since 1960 when Walt Elmer founded the chain in Portland. We bought the southern Oregon restaurants in 2002 and are currently the largest franchise owner in the Elmer’s corporation with six locations, one of which is under construction in Medford.”

The Grants Pass Elmer’s is an extremely popular restaurant for breakfast and lunch but is also open for dinner.

“We have been awarded many times over the years for sales and service accolades,” Dave said. “Additionally, we had the honor of winning Best Breakfast of the Rogue Valley this year in the Sneak Preview. We offer breakfast all day, and we have new featured menu items that are released once a quarter and can be found on the front page of our menu. We are currently featuring a Triple Berry French Toast Combo.”

Service is at top of the list at all Thomason restaurants. “Excellent service means everything to us,” Dave said. “Our goal is that every guest leaves happy. In a recent independent survey, Thomason Hospitality Group’s guest service was rated as one of the highest seen in the restaurant industry. We have a terrific concept, but it will not work without our commitment to guest service, quality, cleanliness and teamwork.”

Elmer’s is open 7 days a week from 6am to 9pm. For more info, call 541-474-0740. You can also see them at and on Facebook.