With its vintage car, rib-sticking brunch plates, and perennial crowd milling around outside waiting to get in, the Cadillac Cafe has been a fixture in Irvington for more than 20 years. And though the original owners are retiring and selling the business, its legions of fans need not worry: The new owners have promised not to change a thing.
"It's a Portland institution," says new co-owner Josh Johnston. "We don't plan on changing anything. Any changes we do make will be small and thought out and helpful." Johnston says the business runs like a well-oiled machine, from the space itself to the staff. "If it's not broken don't fix it. All the staff has been invited to stay on as employees. In fact, I'm looking to take their staff culture and instill it in my other places. They're really on it."
Along with business partner James Hall, Johnston owns North 45 Pub on NW 21st, Circa 33 on SE Belmont, The Station on NE Alberta, and Paddy's Bar and Grill Downtown. Although three of those businesses reflect his original concepts, Paddy's was an old-timer he worked hard to revive.
"Paddy's has been around 40 years. But when I took over six years ago the brand was badly damaged and beat up. At Paddy's we did have to come in and do quite a bit of work to rebuild the business."
But Johnston says the change of ownership at Cadillac Cafe will be seamless. "Our target transition date is March 19. On the 18th we'll go into closing and sign all the documents, and show up on Thursday and hopefully do business as usual."