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Sibling non-rivalry

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Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012



Lee and Lynn Medoff on Northwest 23rd Street in Portland.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina

It’s not every day that you find two siblings operating separate businesses on the same street. Rarer still are neighboring siblings who are pioneers in their own fields.

But since December, when Lee Medoff opened to the public his Bull Run Distillery on Northwest 23rd and Quimby, there are now two Medoffs on the popular Portland shopping street. Almost eight blocks south on 23rd Avenue is Lena Medoyeff, a boutique dress and bridal shop owned by indie fashion designer Lynn Medoff.

Lynn, at 45, is little sister to 49-year-old Lee. She hit the scene 15 years ago, shaking up the local indie fashion world with her sleek but simple designs. Lee took his experience as a beverage meister at McMenamins Edgefield and in 2003 opened House Spirits, his first craft distillery, when the eastside’s Distillers Row was just a twinkle in Portland’s eye.

The family’s original name, brought by Grandpa Medoyeff from the Republic of Georgia, graces Lynn’s boutique (along with Grandpa’s pet name for her) and the label of one’s of Lee’s spirit successes, Medoyeff Vodka.

Brother and sister are delighted to be business neighbors. “It’s so awesome,” says Lynn. “It’s just the best.” Lee agrees. “Having my sister on the same street is really nice. I could have lunch with her every day, if I wanted to.”

The Medoffs are planning more frequent collaborations. “At our spring and fall sale we always serve cocktails made with Medoyeff Vodka,” says Lynn. “I suppose we’ll be serving rum and whiskey ones in the future.”

Lee and his business partner, Patrick Bernards, moved to their new 7,000-square-foot building with the express purpose of distilling whiskey at a greater volume than he had with Aviation Gin and Medoyeff Vodka. While his Oregon whiskey ages, he’ll be making white and dark Pacific Rum. Starting in April, Bull Run’s white Pacific Rum will be served in the tasting room.

Meanwhile, Lynn, after an experiment in expansion with now-closed boutiques in L.A. and Birmingham, Ala., has settled into her sole location on 23rd Avenue. A few years ago, she also consolidated her dress studio and bridal salon into one complementary location. Now, she says, the bride and her mother can find dresses, fashioned from exquisite Indian silk, at the same store.

The siblings say they’re just the latest in a long line of happy, hard-working Medoffs. “It’s nice to be able to do something that you enjoy, that you’re passionate about and that fulfills your soul,” says Lynn.



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