Photo Essay: Overnight At The Roxy Diner

Located on SW Harvey Milk (formerly Stark St.), The Roxy is downtown Portland's only 24-hour restaurant Jason E Kaplan Located on SW Harvey Milk (formerly Stark St.), The Roxy is downtown Portland's only 24-hour restaurant

A night in the life of a waiter working at an iconic 24-hour Portland restaurant.  

The following photo essay is part of a weekly series 'Working the night shift.' OB photographer Jason E Kaplan follows the people who keep the state's largest city running through the night. 

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"My grandmother and great grandmother were in the restaurant industry, so it's kind of in my blood," says Mikey Drew, who has waited tables at The Roxy diner on SW Stark St. in Portland for 23 years, 18 of those years on night shift.

The reason why is simple economics: Nights are always the busiest time.  As Mikey wanted to earn a good living and eventually buy a house, the graveyard shift seemed like the best time to work. 

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With his experience, Mikey could work anywhere, but for him The Roxy is home.  "The owner is like family." He has also grown an affinity for the late crowd.  "I worked in fine dining a long time ago.  I find the people at night are a little more honest."

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"This place can turn on a dime.  It can go from just completely dead to full in five minutes" Mikey says.  There is usually a surge in business after 2 a.m. when the bars close.  The Roxy is a popular spot after a night of clubbing. 

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Roxy customers are a diverse bunch.  "It's kind of a cross section of America,"  he says.

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Mikey says he can carry up to 18 plates at a time.

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The Roxy storefront is small.  Nestled between a bar and a residential hotel you might have to squint to see it.  But since Portland's halcyon days of the 1990s when things were still weird, The Roxy has been a late-night oasis for revelers of all stripes.  

After the bars kick you out you can come here and drink coffee until you're sober, or fight a hangover with pancakes.  

Breakfast is always served. 


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