If it’s Friday night in Prineville, at least half the town packs into Ochoco Brewing (380 N Main St., Prineville, 541-233-0883, ochocobrewing.com)—or at least that’s how it seemed during a recent visit. Every barstool, chair and even a couple of couches in the corner were occupied by customers decked out in cowboy hats and camo, who were either mid-sip or swaying to the music of a live band in a back corner that’s been transformed into a stage. On the evening of my visit, a trio played romantically sad country songs with a mood that can only be expressed by the drawn-out, forlorn notes of a violin. It’s a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place at the original Ochoco Brewery, the first in Central Oregon when it opened in 1882. The owner of the most recent iteration, Joseph Barker, changed the name of the business from Solstice to Ochoco to acknowledge that history in 2015, the same year it moved into the Main Street storefront that once contained the notoriously sordid saloon Cecil’s Pastime. A safe the size of a wood stove was left by the prior occupant, and it’s the first thing you see when you walk in.
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