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Salem Eats Spotlight: Dawn Meets BBQ at Miller’s Cafe

Written by Richelle Gamboa on Oct. 16th, 2023
Featured Image photo for Salem Eats Spotlight: Dawn Meets BBQ at Miller’s Cafe

Tucked away on 25th Ave NE in Salem, the aroma of smoked meats wafts from Miller’s BBQ & Cafe, drawing in locals and travelers alike. Behind the savory allure is a story of resilience, community spirit, and a commitment to crafting an unparalleled culinary experience.

Matthew Miller, the heart and hands behind Miller’s BBQ, recounted his unexpected entrance into the restaurant industry. After a sudden exit from the corporate world, he found himself in a state of transition. The prospect of entrepreneurship never truly appealed to Miller; he simply adored cooking. Yet, a fateful meeting with David Harrison, a Salem business consultant, shifted his perspective. “He told me that I needed to start a business, and for the first time, someone not only said I should do something I was good at but also provided support in starting my business,” recalled Miller.

Challenges were, of course, inevitable for the novice restaurateur. Navigating the nuanced world of business ownership, employee management, and customer relations provided a steep learning curve. But Miller approaches these hurdles with grace, resilience, and a dedication to fostering an environment rooted in “honesty, integrity, and trust.”

At its core, Miller’s BBQ & Cafe aims to elevate BBQ into a realm of casual fine dining. A stand-out feature? Incorporating smoked BBQ meats into breakfast items. Picture this: starting your day with a Brisket Breakfast Burrito or indulging in Brisket Biscuits and Gravy. It’s a bold fusion that sets Miller’s apart from its contemporaries.

Growing up in Salem, Miller’s culinary influences are inherently local. He’s candid about his exposure to BBQ, “I have never had BBQ outside of Oregon,” he says. This local essence permeates the menu, offering patrons a taste that’s authentically Salem.

In its fledgling month, Miller’s BBQ has already experienced moments of profound community connection. The ribbon-cutting ceremony stands out for Miller: “To see how many people showed up to support my new venture and surround me and my team with love was a very emotional time.”

A linchpin to the cafe’s success is its team. Miller lauds their dedication, stating, “Each and every one of them brings such joy, love, and passion for what they do.” Their collective aim? To ensure every patron feels at home and sated.

The restaurant industry is dynamic, but Miller’s vision remains steady. He aims for Miller’s BBQ & Cafe to be an integral part of Salem’s dining tapestry, with hopes to expand its presence along the I-5 in the future.

Committed to Salem’s vibrant community, the establishment actively collaborates with local non-profits, first responders, and community initiatives. Miller sees potential competitors as collaborators, underscoring a collective mission to serve the community with delectable food.

For first-timers, the Brisket Breakfast Burrito comes highly recommended. Enveloped in local Don Pancho tortillas and bursting with flavors of sautéed peppers, onions, grilled potatoes, meat, cheese, and olives, it’s a must-try culinary masterpiece.

In a city as diverse and culinary-forward as Salem, Miller’s BBQ & Cafe is carving out its niche, one smoked meat at a time.

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