and John McGrath
Get ready for some bold changes in the alley
where McGraths’s Fish House has called
home for over 35 years.
“I have always really liked this location.”
“When we opened our new McGrath’s some
years ago near Lancaster, rather than
close the downtown location, we stayed
open, it has always been so very popular.”
The restaurant business is always changing
and being re-invented.
John McGrath is a profound risk taker.
He’s betting big on his new downtown Salem
adventure, Urban Alley. “There’s just nothing
like this in Salem.” Go to the Pearl District
in Portland... and you get the feel and
the vibe of Urban Alley. The big difference is
price. Gregory Gilbert, Executive Chef and
conceptual architect, is bound and determined
to create an eating establishment that
is a great value.
His dream is that everyone can afford to
experience all the special cuisine he has
planned. Gregory crafted his skills in Las Vegas,
where you are only as good as your last
entree. The menu is inventive and built on
Urban Alley has a brand new kitchen
designed by Gregory along with a state of
the art gas and wood fired grill. Urban Alley
General Manager, Houston Hawlely has
worked with McGraths since he was 17 years
old. John McGrath is proud of Houston and
it shows. “Houston is a hard worker.” Hawley
is busy hiring staff and preparing the
newly designed dining room and bar.
From the front of the house to the back,
John McGrath has a plan. Rip up the carpet...
polish the concrete floors, this is new
kind of place.
The menu promises to please and surprise
you with some flavors and dishes that reflect
the seasons. Always fresh..Always local. Urban
Alley is a Salem creation, not a cookie
cutter franchise operation.
For some loyal customers it may be difficult
to face change. We will miss McGrath’s
downtown . Your favorite table just became
a completely new eating experience . Who
knew there were so many different recipes
for Bangers and Mash. When Gregory starts
talking about food.. everyone gets hungry.
There’s a Willamette Valley Cheese Board
on the menu with locally sourced cheese,
served with marionberry pepper jam, mustard,
There’s even Peppermint Panna Cotta on
top of a cranberry coulis. How about a Lamb
Burger grilled on Gregory’s very cool gas and
wood fired grill, the burger is topped with
heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions, arugula
and tzatziki. Gilbert is one of those chefs that
can build the kitchen, build the menu and select
the right purveyors to supply the changing
trends in his casual dining - Urban Alley.
Soft Opening is scheduled for the middle of November.
(top): Ruthie Rouse, Garth Rouse,
Greg Jones, Rene Jones
(bottom): Greg Jones,
Lauren Jones, Tory Jones
How many people have great careers
where they get to work with pretty
much their entire family? Not many. Well,
that’s just not the case with 34 year old Greg
Jones and his family-run business, Professional
Benefit Services, Inc. (PBS).
Jones was born in 1981 and raised right
here in Salem. Dad, Greg, worked at as a systems
analyst for PACC (Physician’s Association
of Clackamas County) and for the state
of Oregon. and his mother, Rene, maiden
name Rouse, was the restaurant manager at
the old Meier and Frank.
His mother and father met in the 7th grade
at Cascade Junior High and were salutatorian
and valedictorian at Cascade High School,
respectively. Jones is thankful that they set
an unbelievable example
for him as parents and
people and he truly appreciates
that he is so blessed
to have the family that he
The family business was
originally named Benefit
Services. It was started
in the early 80’s and was
purchased by Greg’s father,
uncle in 1989. They changed the name to
Professional Benefit Services, Inc. and his
uncle, Garth B. Rouse, took over operations.
Rene came on a year later in the hopes that
she could control her own destiny as a female
in the world of business.
His father came on board part-time in the
late 90’s to help with IT issues as computer
technology became a need. In 2000 he became
full time at PBS.
Ruthie, Garth B’s wife, joined PBS in 2004
as an administrative assistant.
PBS is a third party administrator that
specializes in administration of 401k, HRA,
HSA, FSA, COBRA, transportation, and selffunded
plans. They ensure that the plans are
compliant per the IRS regulations and that
they are in compliance with the plan’s legal
Their services for self-funded plans, added
in 2015, are similar but they also do everything
that an insurer does. Self-funded plans
are a type of insurance where employers bear
more risk by paying the claims directly rather
than paying a premium to have the insurer
cover all of the claims. This can reduce the
cost of healthcare by 30% but can expose the
employer to additional risk.
In May of 2015 they started a new venture,
self-funded health insurance administration.
They had an advisor they had worked with
for nearly 20 years who needed a company
he could trust to administer his self-funded
health plans and PBS was that company.
Recently, the company began working with
a new client in Cordova, Alaska, on a new
project that involves a “self insured medical”
PBS has 35 employees, over 1200 retirement
plans and over 600 health and welfare
Looking ahead, PBS is currently undergoing
family business transition counseling as
Greg and the other younger family members
will be taking over as owners in 2020.
Greg has three siblings, all of whom graduated
from Oregon State. Younger brother,
Mitch, 26, worked in IT for the state, but just
this month began doing IT for PBS.
Sister, Lauren, 31, Is the director of human
resources for PBS and sister, Tory, 29, is in a
developing position with PBS.
Greg attended Salem Heights Elementary
School, Leslie Middle School and South Salem
High School. Athletics has always been a big part of
Greg’s life and he competed in just about every
sport offered year round. Baseball, basketball,
football and track were all a part of
his high school life with baseball replaced by
track when he was a junior at South. He ran
the 400 meters and threw the javelin.
But football is where he really stood out. As
a 185 pound junior linebacker for the team,
he was getting some serious looks from
Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona
State football. Then came his senior year.
He put on 30 pounds for his senior year
and was playing some of the best football
of his life averaging 19 tackles a game. In
his fourth game of the season, he blew out
his ankle and missed the rest of the football
year. In spite of that, he’d performed so well
in those few games that year that he was still
voted third team all-city at the end of the season.
But that was of little consolation.
The ankle injury was problematic even after
graduation from South in 2000. After the
injury, only a few smaller schools were interested
in him for football. But Oregon State
was where his heart was and that was also
where an outstanding engineering program
resided. And though football was important,
his education was the top priority and engineering
was something he was very, very interested
Enter his uncle Garth B. Rouse, who played
for Oregon State in the 80’s, and his grandfather,
Garth T. Rouse who played for OSU in
the 40’s. They got his highlight playing tape
to OSU coach Greg Newhouse. Newhouse
called Greg in June and asked him to come
in and meet with him. He reviewed the tape
with Jones and later asked if I would be interested
in walking on as an invitee. “Yes”,
was his answer! OSU, football and engineering
Jones had a great red shirt year in football
and looked forward to the following season.
But that summer a terrible accident happened
at the Three Pools area on the Santiam
River when, while trying to cliff jump
into the water below, he lost his balance and
fell about 25 feet to the rocks below. Lucky to
be alive, he severely injured his ankle again,
and only one day before fall camp was to begin.
The timing couldn’t have been worse.
Loaded up on drugs, he showed up for Beaver
football. But from that day on, even as
he soldiered through the pain for two additional
years, his football career was an everyday
very uncomfortable struggle. The ankle
became so bad that he decided to give it up
his senior year. Time to fully concentrate on
Greg Jones graduated from Oregon State in
2005 with a bachelors degree in engineering.
Education obtained! Life goes on.
He was immediately hired by Kyocera in
Vancouver, Washington, as a process engineer.
By the end of his first year he was
managing three production lines producing
ceramic aerospace components. It was
an exciting job that he really enjoyed but it
was very busy and he would typically work
a minimum of 50 hours a week, many times
going 60+ hours a week. But, being a single
guy, that was no problem. Then he met Diana
Vega from Aumsville.
They met at a friend’s birthday party in May of 2008. It was “love at first sight” according
to Greg. And judging from the subsequent
turn of events, it must have been the
same for both of them. Greg and Diana were
married on November 28, 2009.
When Diana became pregnant, working
all those hours in Vancouver wasn’t very
attractive anymore. That’s when he made
the decision to do what was best for his
family, drop the 50 and 60 hour weeks
and come back to work at the family business
in Salem in 2010.
At PBS, he started working on every line
of business they had with some time dedicated
to process improvements and control.
He was promoted to director of operations
in 2014 and has been managing
all aspects of the business ever since.
Wife, Diana, is a teacher at Lollypop Preschool
in Keizer. She plans to go back to
school at Western Oregon possibly next
fall to add to her education. Greg is also
looking at going back to school next fall.
He would like to get either his masters in
engineering at OSU or a law degree at Willamette.
Both would be useful for his work
at PBS. That decision will be made in the
Besides Jones’ engineering expertise
he’s also fluent in Spanish. He had 5 years
of Spanish in high school and one year in
college. He did two separate 5 week studyabroad
trips to Torredembarra, Spain,
and credits those experiences for having a
very positive effect on his life and how he
sees the world. He maintains a very close
relationship with that family in Spain to
The Jones’ have two girls, Kailyn is 5 and
Kya is 3. Enjoying the family with bike
riding, park outings and summer boating,
are top priorities to them when they’re
not working. Greg also loves exercising
at PhysiQ Fitness (where I met him), racquetball
and one on one basketball with
Note to non-profits in the area, PBS is
looking for a primary non-profit community
partner. They have a strong commitment
to take good care of their community
and their employees and continually
encourage them to involve themselves in
community services in Salem and Keizer.
PBS is located at 1193 Royvonne Ave SE,
Suite 22 in Salem. Their phone number is:
503-371-7622. Their web site is: profben.com. If you see services they provide listed
in this column that your business could
benefit from, contact them. I haven’t
met other members of the family but I
do know Greg Jones very, very well. And
if Greg is any indicator, you won’t find a
more capable business or nicer people on
the planet. It really is, a family affair. Of
that, I’m sure!
Bill Isabell is also chief meteorologist
for KBZY Radio, Salem’s First Choice,
Rich Duncan, Project 807 EMHE
As a company we
have learned an invaluable
how to approach
and complete a
project with success.
Rich Duncan on the job site
Today we are complete with the project
called 807, eighth season seventh build.
Some fun facts: from the day we said we
would take on the project till breaking
ground was 43 days. This included design,
plans, civil and structural engineering, oh
and even permits.
project was as some know
two projects with a 12,000
SF renovation of the
current haunted house,
called the "The Nightmare
Factory". This renovation
upgrades, fire life safety,
electrical and controls to
create a safe structure for
the haunted house, and to
continue and be the fund
raising event the school & kids depend on.
The Second project was to start from scratch
and build a new boys dorm. We were able to
build the commons area and one wing of the
dorm for about 4000 SF of space, including
all the infrastructure for the complete building
of 48 beds, about 15,000 SF Total.
From the beginning our team with the
help of Architect Gene Bolante and the City
of Salem's McRae Carmichael, set a goal of
"LEED" GOLD, and with solar, an Eco roof
and other energy and sustainable components
we met it. This took us a record 131
hours to complete the two projects. We had
over 5000 volunteers sign up online for
just 850 six hour shifts.
We had over 1200
trade volunteers. Our VIP
tent had 10 functions with
over 250 people attending
each event. We served over
11,000 meals to the volunteers.
We Reached our
goal of 2 million dollar gift
to the school and the kids.
Talk about working together!
Our lead team of 8
project managers worked
4 on 4 off working from 7
to 7 to make it happen. The
trade leads for the project were top notch
"Can Do" thinkers. Non-union and union
workers worked side by side all doing a little,
to gift a lot.
I am the most proud that our community
supported our company so strongly that
even the Extreme Make Over staff had a
good time and enjoyed their visit. No stress
We just completed our photo compilation
with over 1500 behind the scenes pictures.
Call the office for a copy. The behind the
scenes video including the show will be out
early next month.
As a company we have learned an invaluable
lesson in how to approach and complete
a project with success. I can't thank
ABC enough for the opportunity. We have
put the tools we have learned on this project
in place already, saving time and money, as
well as saving stress in our other projects.
Thank you, to all who helped.