Officially closed indefinitely to the public on September 11, Glyph Cafe & Arts Space is still available as an event space rental for the time being, with a focus on literary and art events as well as supper clubs and pop-up dinners. The cafe closed overnight, and owner Sandra Comstock is ready to share the story.
"It's been the most fantastic thing I've ever done," said Comstock, "and you know, it's my first venture and we probably made some mistakes early on. We love the neighborhood and the crowd it brings in, but in the end, I couldn't make it work."
When she announced on Facebook that Glyph would close, Comstock referenced reopening. Speaking to Eater, she said, "I have been speaking with the mayor's office about potential support for reopening because there were some issues that happened this summer. But as to whether we can reopen as a breakfast-lunch spot.... that's still tentative and ultimately unlikely."
Portland's North Park Blocks are currently under intense scrutiny by the Mayor and Portland Police Department in connection with a homelessness issue that many say is growing out of control. Comstock did not directly refer to the issue until specifically asked whether it had anything to do with the cafe's closing.
I think that finally the city is listening to what we're saying.
"I think that finally the city is listening to what we're saying," said Comstock. "In the past, we've had homeless people and everything was fine. This summer was different. Palpably different. And I don't know why that was. It had a different element... that is, a new more difficult element moved in - probably related to spring city efforts to clear areas where tougher elements tended to congregate. That said, the city's recent efforts in the last month to ask police and the Clean and Safe program to enforce general laws of decency, as well as ask recent comers to be respectful of residents and those who work in the North Park Blocks, have improved things significantly. In short, the problem has gotten much better in the past month."
When asked why she isn't keeping Glyph open to see if the positive changes will continue, Comstock answered straightforwardly, "I had to make payroll all summer, with a very different level of sales than the previous summer. At some point, you run out of extra resources."
Comstock said that she's taking time to reevaluate and that she hopes to open another business, culinary, artistic, or otherwise, down the road.
"I feel confident in all that we were doing in the space," said Comstock. "I mean, all of our fire times were under 10 minutes. I think the customer service was excellent. I think the food was really good."
Glyph regularly hosted art and literary events featuring the city's top authors and artists and featured a poetry wall of diner-penned poems. With experience organizing diplomatic dinners at Harvard—with such attendees as John Kerry and John McCain—and doing Fulbright and SSRC-funded research as a PhD in Sociology, Comstock become a culinary and art curator two years ago. The food, prepared by Doug Weiler, now focusing on Willow, had artistic presentations focused on whole-vegetable cooking.