After an uncharacteristically hot and sleepy summer, the Portland dining scene is gearing up for fall, which is traditionally a busy season for restaurant openings. In just the past couple weeks, a couple major projects have revealed themselves: Peter Bro, the man behind Broder, announced he'd start slinging quarter-pound burgers in an old-school diner space downtown. Chef Ryan Roadhouse, of the recurring pop-up Nodoguro, revealed yesterday that he'll be opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the soon-to-close Evoe space — though according to Roadhouse, he won't tinker with its current format until the end of October. "Late fall, I will reevaluate and go from there," Roadhouse says.
Here now, a look at some of the major projects planning to open between now and the holidays. Brace, Portland: You're about to welcome a brewery serving Chinese food, a long-awaited Italian restaurant/urban creamery, and what could possibly be America's first-ever cat cafe.
Location: 5846 NE Sandy Boulevard
Major Players: Chris Bogart and Nate Yovu
The Situation: With their Kickstarter campaign successfully ending yesterday (adding an additional $15,000 in seed money), chef Chris Bogart and brewer Nate Yovu are going full steam ahead with the opening of BTU Brasserie, the first hybrid Chinese restaurant and brewery in Portland. Earlier this summer, Bogart told Eater to expect a food menu full of Schezuan, Hunan, and Vermont influences (Bogart's father ran two acclaimed Chinese restaurants in the Northeastern state before retirement), from noodle plates to steamed buns. The duo also plan a custom-made smokehouse for Peking duck, and want to launch dim sum brunch after opening.
Projected Opening: Late August to early September.
Also opening in August
· Onetime food cart Pepper Box will open a 28-seat cafe on SE Morrison Street, serving its familiar breakfast tacos alongside new dishes like green chile cheeseburgers, tort as, and huevos rancheros.
· According to owner Elizabeth Beekley (also of NW 23rd's cookie shop Two Tarts Bakery), her downtown cake shop Palace Cakes is just a couple weeks away from opening, giving it a late August / early September debut date. Once open, expect cake by the slice available on SW Yamhill.
Photo courtesy Facebook
Location: 1409 NE Alberta Street
Major Players: Bamboo Sushi's Kristofor Lofgren, chefs Jin Soo Yang and Chris Paquette
The Situation: The sustainably minded Bamboo Sushi — which has locations in NW and SE Portland — will open its first dedicated izakaya in a building currently under renovation on NE Alberta Avenue. Last month, Lofgren told Eater the concept would recreate a "true izakaya" experience, focusing on kushiyaki skewers (cooked over bincho-tan charcoal grills imported from Japan), in addition to small plates, Japanese whiskeys, shochu, and cocktails. In Bamboo's usual sustainable style, the restaurant promises that all meats will be hormone- and cruelty-free, negating some of the guilt that may be involved in ordering the foie gras tsukune (meatballs), Wagyu burger, and/or the bacon tasting flight that'll soar during brunch.
Projected Opening: In an update, Lofgren says the team is aiming for a September 8 debut, though because "true izakaya are bars/taverns, we are being more 'casual' about our opening."
Also opening in September
· Blue Star Donuts plans a satellite store on N. Mississippi, bringing in doughnuts from its SE Hawthorne shop twice daily.
Photo of Mextiza courtesy Avila/EPDX
Location: 2103 N. Killingsworth, in the former Mextiza space
Major Players: Aaron and Faith Dionne
The Situation: One alum of downtown stalwart Higgins and one founder of the artisan "bean-to-bar" chocolate company Bees & Beans join forces to open New American, a family-style restaurant designed to "help folks set the table with complete and ready meals." According to Faith Dionne, the duo — who have two children — were inspired to create New American as our "solution to the nightly dinner dilemma," offering mix-and-match "bundle meals," entrees in small or large sizes, and a variety of sides and sandwiches.
Projected Opening: Although the Dionnes were originally aiming for a September opening, Faith tells Eater a new date sees the restaurant debuting in October "at the earliest."
Photo of Red Coach courtesy David R. via Foursquare
Location: 615 Broadway, in the former Red Coach space
Major Players: Peter Bro
The Situation: Peter Bro, restaurateur behind Scandinavian brunch sensation Broder, the Midwest-inspired Savoy Tavern, and the burger at Bar Bar, is finally planting roots downtown, though not with a Westside location of Broder, as long promised. Instead, Bro's entering the diner game with All-Way, a diner focused on In-N-Out style burgers, milkshakes, and fries. Rounding out the diner menu are fried chicken, fish fry-platters, and custards, to be paired with a bar program focused on mixed drinks. Is the updated diner downtown's new thing? Fellow multi-project restaurateur Dayna McErlean opened the Dime Store in another familiar lunch-counter setting: the Leo's Non-Smoking Cafe space.
Projected Opening: Bro says the plan is to keep the Red Coach space "mostly" intact, so expect an opening in mid-October.
Also opening in October
· According to head macaron-maker Laura Farina, the retail counter and dessert shop from Farina Bakery is aiming for a mid-October debut in SE Hawthorne's former Otto/Fin/Sel Gris space.
November & December
Location: 7783 SW Capitol Highway
Major Players: Mark Doxtader
The Situation: After his SE Milwaukie dining room closed a few years ago, chef Mark Doxtader has been firing up his familiar oven at the Portland Farmers Market and (more recently) a downtown bagel cart. But late this year, Doxtader will return with his long-planned, full-fledged restaurant in Multnomah Village, offering wood-fired pizzas and roasted chickens in a 45-seat space (expect a retail counter stocked with Doxtader's Montreal-style bagels). As build-out continues through the fall, Doxtader says he plans to upgrade his trailer oven, with a formal unveiling coming up "soon."
Projected Opening: Due to some hold-ups, Doxtader says restaurant opening will happen in December "at the earliest."
Photo of Renata courtesy Nick Arnerich
Location: 626 SE Main St.
Major Players: Nick Arnerich
The Situation: In January 2014, Portland native Nick Arnerich and two experienced San Francisco transplants, Karl Holl and James Serlin, announced they would open a regional Italian restaurant in Inner Southeast. The ambitious project also featured an in-house sheep's milk dairy operation, Ancient Heritage Dairy, creating a hybrid urban creamery/restaurant/retail space where the menu focused around a large central hearth. By June, Holl and Serlin exited the project, but Arnerich now says that a new chef is in place, with a new projected opening slightly past its revised October 2014 date.
Projected Opening: Late 2014
Also opening in late fall
· The race to open America's first-ever cat cafe is still on, with Purrington's Cat Lounge planning a December opening on NE MLK.
· All Previous Fall Tracking Coverage [Eater PDX]