Bringing the Heat in Fall Creek
The family behind Dueling Spoons Fine Food shares culinary journey
Story and photos by Craig Reed
Billy Reid’s journey has taken him from the metropolitan areas of Belfast, Ireland, and New York City to the rural community of Fall Creek, Oregon.
The 61-year-old loves where he’s been and the experiences he gained as a chef and food service manager, but is now thrilled to share his expertise as owner/operator of his own business, Dueling Spoons Fine Food.
The business, sitting alongside Jasper Lowell Road east of the Springfield area, is both a restaurant with seating for 40 and a small store. The store sells the same items Billy uses in his cooking.
Billy says with pride that the food is cooked to order, and he is the only chef.
“If I hired a cook, am I really cooking for you?” he says. “It’s me—the chef—and a frying pan. It’s real food cooked by a real chef for real people.”
“It’s exactly what we were looking for,” he says of the decision he and his wife, Kathleen, made to open the business. “We want people to come in, relax, take a break. If you’re a grumpy person, don’t come here. If you’re on a schedule, don’t come here. This is not fast food.”
With a smile and some laughter, Billy explains the source of the Dueling Spoons name. When the prongs of a couple forks came out of a dishwasher interlocked, he thought Dueling Forks would be a great restaurant name. But then the couple’s young daughter, Shannon, said those 2 words.
“It sounded like something else,” Billy says laughing. “So we went with Dueling Spoons.”
In 1977, Billy got into the restaurant business when he took a job as a dishwasher at the age of 15 after moving with his family to New York from his birthplace in Belfast. He graduated from high school in Belfast and knew it was time to go to work.
In his first couple of years of restaurant work, he looked up to the chefs and saw what he wanted to do with his life.
“I had always enjoyed cooking and then I saw the chefs were in charge, and I guess I wanted to be in charge,” he says.
To learn the cooking and baking trade, Billy attended an intensive 6-month course at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. He graduated in 1993, worked for and with several veteran head chefs in that state and soon became a head chef himself.
When arriving at a restaurant for an interview, Billy met Kathleen, a waitress. Billy got both the chef’s job and Kathleen. They married in August 1994.
In 2000, the couple moved to Turlock, California, to be close to Kathleen’s family. Over the next several years, Billy worked as a head chef, a manager of coffee shops, a food service teacher for developmentally disabled adults and as a food service director for a school district.
In 2016, the couple and their children moved north to the Springfield area where Billy took a job in school food service.
“Kathleen and I love this area,” Billy says of their move to Oregon. “We love everything about it.”
He retired from his food service job in 2021.
“I still had bills, but I knew at that point I didn’t want to work for anybody,” he says.
His plan was to be a private chef, cooking in people’s homes for families or dinner parties. But just before that idea became reality, the store in Fall Creek came up for sale.
“One day a voice in my head told me to go to the store and buy a soda,” Billy recalls of that day in 2022. “I’d been here twice before and had thought it would make a great country restaurant. So I made the turn and when I pulled up, a sign in the window said it was closing in a couple of days.”
Billy walked in, explained his restaurant vision to the owner and the two agreed on a lease-to-purchase arrangement. Billy and Kathleen, with some help from their 6 children, renovated the building into their restaurant. They announced on Facebook that the building would be the future home of Dueling Spoons. In a couple days, the restaurant had 100 followers with some people talking about the history of the building and that they used to work there. The business now has 1,900 Facebook followers.
“We wanted somehow to not change it, but to have the store evolve into something else,” Billy says.
New lighting was installed, walls were painted, the floor was painted to give it a scuffed look, new sanitation equipment was installed and the kitchen was remodeled.
Dueling Spoons opened six months ago. “My style is that I’m going to cook you a steak that looks like a steak,” Billy says. “I like to cook real food that is not covered in stuff.”
While Billy is the only chef, Kathleen manages the dining area. The couple are helped by four of their 6 grown children. Sons Sean and Shane are servers, daughter Saoirse—which means freedom in Irish—is a hostess and server, and son Seamus is the fix-it man. Billy Jr., the oldest son, is a chef in Florida, and daughter Shannon now lives in Washington.
“The community support has been overwhelming,” Kathleen says. “From the minute we took over the space, people have been cheering us on. It’s been incredible.”
“I’m very, very proud of Billy,” she adds. “Everything he’s ever touched has been wildly successful. He puts all of himself into everything he does.”
Billy and Kathleen were especially touched by a Facebook message that read, “None of us really knew how much we needed you here. And we couldn’t have dreamed better! You and your family are awesome. Thank you.”
Dueling Spoons, 39074 Jasper Lowell Road in Fall Creek, is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday with delistyle lunches available and dinner service starting at 5 p.m. Sunday brunch hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.