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|Articles - Nov/Dec 2012|
|Monday, November 05, 2012|
Page 2 of 4
In other words, understanding the evolution of Portland’s food scene requires a bit of contrarian thinking. The reasons Portland has been able to incubate a successful restaurant industry may have as much to do with the city’s social, economic and urban development circumstances as it does the chefs and the food. In 2012 Oregon had 10,500 restaurants that employed about 170,000 people and were projected to register $6.2 billion in sales, up from $5.3 billion in 2007. In Portland, data about the numbers of restaurants is a bit harder to come by, despite the often repeated statement that Portland has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country. “I’ve never been able to verify that claim,” says John Hamilton, a spokesperson for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. An increase in liquor license applications does point to an uptick in new restaurant openings, Hamilton says, and in Portland, anecdotal evidence bears out that claim.
At least 15 new chef-driven independent restaurants have opened or will open in inner-city Portland this year, many hotly anticipated second ventures from local restaurant owners. John Gorham, proprietor of the popular Tasty n Sons on North Williams Avenue, is opening a second location downtown this fall. Tommy Habetz, chef/co-owner of Bunk Sandwiches, is opening the Tex-Mex-themed Trigger in Northeast Portland, also this fall.
“The number of new restaurants is multiplying; it feels like it’s squared every year,” says Nostrana co-owner Cathy Whims, who opened a second restaurant herself this past fall, the Pearl District’s Oven & Shaker. She used to worry that new restaurants would cut into her bottom line. Instead, the uptick in new restaurants seems to be having a cluster effect. “They just bring new business,” she says.
One of the most high-profile openings of the year is Imperial, a new venture in the Hotel Lucia by acclaimed chef Vitaly Paley, who has run the award-winning Paley’s Place since 1995. “I felt the need to express other creative thoughts and ideas,” says Paley. But Paley also got a good deal from the owners of the downtown hotel, who approached him with the idea about a year ago and, he says, contributed the lion’s share of the funding.
In Portland restaurant circles, relatively propitious real estate is a common topic of conversation, especially among those who have relocated from higher-priced cities. In 2010 Andrew Fortgang and Gabriel Rucker, co-owners of Le Pigeon in Southeast Portland, opened a second restaurant downtown, Little Bird, for about $300,000. “To open the same restaurant in New York would be a million and a half, maybe two,” says Fortgang, 33, who worked in Big Apple venues before moving to Portland in 2007. Then there’s Johanna Ware, who served as sous chef for New York City’s Momofuku restaurants before moving to Portland in 2009 and eventually opening Smallwares, a new restaurant in Northeast Portland. “I knew it would be a little easier and cheaper to do it in Portland,” says Ware, who, with the help of her mother spent about $150,000 to open the Asian-influenced venue.
Unlike Chicago, San Francisco or even Seattle, Portland restaurants tend to be guided by the vision of an individual chef/owner, not a pool of investors. Along with the artisan coffee, beer, wine and farms, the image of the artisan chef is part of a “sexy, super-appealing story” explaining how Portland became a culinary mecca, says David Machado, proprietor of Nel Centro and Vindalho.
But it’s not the whole story. Unlike other cities, Portland’s relatively affordable housing allows startup owners and staff “to live in harmony with their wage,” says Machado. Oregon’s minimum wage is $8.80 an hour; California’s is $8. As of September 2012, a two-bedroom Portland apartment rented for an average of $1,032 a month, compared to $2,106 a month in San Francisco. The role Portland’s famed livability has played in nurturing the restaurant industry cannot be overstated, he says.
“Sixteen years ago, I moved to Portland from San Francisco to open a restaurant, buy a home and put my kids in public schools,” he says. “To this day, if you talk to [a chef] who moves here, they would probably tell you the same thing.” Machado pauses. “Those are good goals,” he says. “Good ideals.”
Friday, July 18, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”
Thursday, July 10, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
BY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS
The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”
Monday, August 18, 2014
Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.
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