Compared to its tourist-beloved neighbor to the south, Gearhart, Oregon — population 1,836 — is a quiet stop along the Oregon Coast. It doesn’t have the cinematic history of Astoria or the cheese-lover destination in Tillamook; it’s a place that values its tranquil nooks and hidden respites, with beach grass creeping over the sandy dunes and driftwood scattered along the aptly named Little Beach.
Looking to get away from the Los Angeles grind, Ireland Baldwin — daughter of Alec and actress Kim Basinger — relocated from Los Angeles to Gearhart during the peak of the pandemic. In an almost ironic twist, the move from Hollywood found the model in what could easily be the plot of a Nancy Meyers movie. Baldwin became a regular at the local watering hole, Sweet Shop, where she befriended owner Traci Williams. When Williams expressed her plans to retire, she urged Baldwin to take over the historical property, which has been a prominent town landmark since at least 1926.
The building will soon usher in its latest era: Baldwin and partner André Allen Anjos, the Grammy-winning musician also known as RAC, are opening Good Times, a new cafe and bar with an attached boutique, next year. The Portland-based pair describe it as the first project from their accompanying lifestyle brand of the same name. Good Times will sell things like wine, pantry items, pet supplies, and skincare products from small businesses which are largely women- and/or Black-owned. “Most of the brands we’re working with are my friends,’” Baldwin says. “So it’s a communal thing with the boutique and cafe, because we’re all kind of a family that’s working on this together.”
To orchestrate the eponymous good times, Anjos and Baldwin put together a band of professionals in natural wine, coffee, and food to shape the cafe’s menu. The couple are newbies to the restaurant industry, but they say their past creative and business endeavors have equipped them for this new pursuit: If Good Times were an actual band, Anjos, with his structural and organizational personality, keeps a steady beat as the drummer, while Baldwin has slipped into a singer-songwriter role, floating creative big picture ideas.
See See Coffee co-owner Teddy Albertson will oversee the coffee during the day, when the cafe will serve breakfast and lunch items like pastries, salads, and light seafood dishes. By night, the cafe will take on more of a European wine bar vibe, as small plates and glasses of natural wine land on tables — bottles from the same distributor as Portland’s own Ardor Natural Wines. The couple found inspiration on a recent trip to Sardinia, and want to channel the Mediterranean cuisine’s reverence for its ingredients.
“When I think of the ideas we have for this restaurant, it’s the simplicity of [Sardinia’s] dishes and how their seafood really speaks for itself,” Baldwin says. “It’s not being glamorized by tons of sauces and this and that.”
Chef and Oregon Coast local Doug Niblack is the kitchen’s conductor, creating dishes like a foraged vegetable risotto and childhood comfort foods like tomato soup with grilled cheese and a cast-iron baked cookie. “He’s so knowledgeable in plants and tinctures and harvesting, and he hunts his own meat,” Baldwin says. Seasonality will be a key tenet of Good Times; its predominantly gluten-free menu is expected to change often, depending on what Niblack is able to forage, hunt, or catch.
Unsurprisingly, Anjos will curate Good Times’ auditory experience: He already has a dedicated Spotify playlist, some 65 hours strong, which will give the cafe a cozy, pop-y soundtrack. “I’m picking songs that set a very specific tone,” Anjos says. “It’s about enhancing that comfort.”
Good Times is part of a wave of refreshed businesses in Gearhart — Baldwin says Pacific Way Cafe and Marketplace, the town’s corner store, and a local bed and breakfast all have new ownership. “We’re trying to make this as cottagecore cuteness as possible,” Baldwin says. “The whole coastal grandma thing is happening.”
Good Times opens in 2023 at 567 Pacific Way in Gearhart.