Get ready to feel nostalgic: Revelers at the Sandy River and surrounding area have something to look forward to post-adventure, as a new old-school drive-in opens on the riverbank this July. Helmed by an alum from Beast, Expatriate, and Gotham Tavern, Sugarpine Drive-In will swirl soft-serve and sundaes, press grilled cheeses, and knock out salads and barbecue sandwiches from scratch, with a focus on the hyper-local and seasonal ingredients that define the Portland restaurant scene.
Sugarpine comes from chef Emily Cafazzo, whose impressive resumé includes time at Naomi Pomeroy’s destination restaurant and New York’s lauded pizzeria Roberta’s, as well as eclectic bar Expatriate and the now shuttered Gotham Tavern. Her husband, co-owner, and co-chef Ryan Domingo managed the Michelin-star-awarded New York branch of Pok Pok as well as Portland’s rustic chic Ned Ludd before the two opened catering company Larch Provisions in 2015.
The drive-in is currently under construction in what was once a vintage gas station, now owned by the city of Troutdale. The location could not be better for a summer-friendly restaurant, right along the bank of the Sandy at the head of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Besides the venerable Tad’s Chicken and Dumplings, Sugarpine won’t have much in the way of competition for the hordes of river-goers whose float ends right there. Sugarpine will have a sprawling, 40-person patio, with a few picnic tables overlooking the river for an additional 10-or-so seats. Service will be offered at drive-thru and walk-up windows, and will include beer, wine, and the requisite frosé slushies along with the ice cream and sandos.
Besides people coming out to enjoy the Gorge, Domingo and Cafazzo want to provide “a destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all types, and a new tradition for them and the community,” Domingo says. “What we’re trying to do is showcase our own food and hospitality, but keep alive the spirit of the classic American drive-in.”
The space will also serve as a kitchen for their catering company, Larch Provisions, which specializes in “healthy farm fare” and Northwestern cuisine. The dual purpose will likely help Sugarpine out during the slower winter months, though the team is also prepared to deal with that with a cover and heating, as well as community-focused dinners and events.
As with the current trend in new restaurants, the team is launching a Kickstarter, which is set to go live on Friday, June 8.
• Sugarpine Drive-In [Official]