Last month, Portland Chronicle, the anonymous blog that documents proposed demolitions in the city of Portland, reported that Touché, Frank Ernandes' Italian eatery with the second-floor billiards hall, may be on the demolition block.
We followed up this week with the restaurant's general manager, Thomas Burmaster, who told us over the phone that the Touché family is "in a weird sort of limbo."
Last week, Burmaster attended to a pre-application hearing at the Bureau of Development Services building downtown, but he added that going to that meeting didn't necessarily clear things up.
"A lot of questions were answered, but a lot of questions were raised," Burmaster says.
At issue is whether or not the bureau will force Mill Creek, a national Texas-based development company, to preserve the building Touché occupies—1425 NW Glisan Street—as it moves ahead with a plan to build a 150-unit 12-story apartment building on that block where it stands.
The building was constructed in 1913, and was originally used as a firehouse.
At this point, Burmaster says he sees just two options: The city steps in and lets the Touché stay, forcing Mill Creek to either abandon the project or build around it, or the city lets the project go through, ultimately resulting in Touché's demolition.
"If the building is demolished, Touché will likely die here." Burmeister says. However, he says Ernandes would want to open up shop in another location somewhere else with the same "spirit" and "concept" of Touché, but under a different name.
He says that he is touched, though, that people are now expressing their support and concern.
"People who heard about it are telling us how sad they are because they had their first date here," he says. And at the pre-application hearing, Burmaster says the bureaus's point person on the project read several emails from people expressing concern, causing the spokesperson to ask, in a couple of different ways, if Touché could be spared. Burmaster says he expects those questions will be answered by June.
Touché has been serving Italian food at the edge of the Pearl District for 20-plus years, and its second-story pool hall has long been a service industry hangout where servers, bartenders, and line cooks would unwind after being on their feet all night.
Touché: 1425 NW Glisan St., 503-221-1150