A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Yes, Sybaris owners are buying OER station

Written February 1st, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Janel and Matt Bennett outside Sybaris, their downtown restaurant, on Tuesday afternoon.

Now it’s official: Janel and Matt Bennett, owners of Sybaris, are buying the historic Oregon Electric Railway station in downtown Albany and plan to move their world-class restaurant there.

Rumors to that effect were floating around town when I reported on the pending sale of the building on Jan. 13. At the time, the deal had not progressed to the point where Matt could talk about it. But on Tuesday he told me: “We’re under contract to buy the building.”

He expects the sale to close in a couple of months.

The structure dates from 1912, when the tracks of the Oregon Electric reached Albany from Portland. Later the railroad provided passenger service between Portland and Eugene. It also opened several branch lines, including one to Corvallis. But it ceased passenger service in 1933.

In recent years the former Albany passenger station at 133 Fifth Ave S.E. housed Ciddici’s Pizza. The pizza and lottery outlet closed last spring as a result of a dispute over rent between the brothers who owned it. They settled at the end of the year and put the property up for sale.

Matt told me that Tim and Hamid Siddiqui, the owners, had kept most of the building intact, and he and his wife intend to restore all of it to as much of its original condition as possible. Among other things they plan to restore the former passenger waiting room to its full size.

Albany contractor Pyburn & Sons will do the work. When it’s done, the Bennetts will move their restaurant into the restored landmark from the space they have rented for 20 years at the corner of First Avenue and Washington Street, across from the Albany Carousel.

Matt says the restoration will take a while, and he hopes to open the new Sybaris early in 2023. (hh)

The old OER depot at 133 Fifth Ave. S.E. looked like this on July 29, 2021.




16 responses to “Yes, Sybaris owners are buying OER station”

  1. Suebee says:

    This makes me happy that a local chef/restauranteur is investing in our community!

    I can’t wait to see your success!


  2. Bob Woods says:

    Outstanding. Best of luck to the Bennetts, and hoping they do well.

  3. Bill Maddy says:

    This is the best thing that has ever happened to Oregon Electric Railway passenger station building since it closed in 1933. Thanks to the Bennetts for making my wish a reality and for bringing new life to this historic Albany landmark.

  4. Rolland Brower says:

    The best news to join OER building with Matt and Janel Bennett. Congrats to the Bennett’s, their hard working employees and Albany!

  5. Russell Hawke says:

    This is refreshing and such awesome news. Not only are we getting a new relocation of a great restaurant, but an opportunity for another restaurant to move in. Thank you to the Bennett’s that have added so much to the downtown Albany community. One question: where is the bad mitten set going to go? :)

  6. Sharon Konopa says:

    Excellent, excellent news and exciting for Janel and Matt!

  7. Therese Waterhous says:

    What wonderful news! Congratulations to Matt and Janel. I know their new place will be a gem!

  8. James Engel says:

    Enlarge the “waiting area” to where? Hope they at least replace that grubby rug on the floor. And get the bathrooms to working order. My ABATE group met there for monthly meetings & the conditions really fell off in the last months we used it.

    • Stacey says:

      Agreed, I REALLY want to enjoy this local restaurant and I’ll definately give it another chance at its new location.

  9. Peggy Richner says:

    This is a win, win. Very much looking forward to the new venue. Congratulations Matt and Janel!

  10. Kathwren says:

    This is GOOD NEWS for everyone!
    A great building for a great restaurant.

  11. Darlene Salisbury says:

    That is super cool!! Congratulations to them on acquiring OER Station! Looking forward to having a wonderful dinner there with my husband! Awesome!!!!

  12. TLH-ALB1 says:

    Where’s the LIKE button??

  13. Dick Olsen says:

    Thanks Bennetts. Wish CARA could be of some help with this worthy project.

  14. Vic Neves says:

    Congratulations Janel and Matt. Your both a class act. And the OE depot is the perfect venue to express this.

  15. Schmuck281 says:

    Hopefully the new owners will put some hangings or something that will kill the awful acoustics in there. Every time I’ve been there I cannot hear anything because of the noise. I thought hearing aids would help but they don’t.


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