Restaurateur Micah Camden has a process for his restaurant openings—he likes things simple, affordable, and fast. It’s also typically focused on one primary thing that he calls his “North Star,” whether that be a classic fast food burger like with Super Deluxe, Southern fried chicken like with Bae’s Chicken, or even vegan ice cream, like with Little Chkpea. Next week, he’s hoping those successes will be matched by his newest venue: Kevin and Franky’s, a takeout and delivery-only shop built around his favorite sandwich, the French dip.
The major inspirations for the restaurant were his love for the sandwich and a perceived lack of competitive French dips in Portland. “I open restaurants where I want to eat,” Camden says. “I just love French Dips. I don’t know that anyone has ever gone all in on a French dip in this town. Other cities have a ‘best French dip in town,’ and Portland doesn’t.”
Kevin and Franky’s, adorably named for Camden’s two Havanese dogs, is going into the space formerly home to Bamboo Sushi’s Quickfish on Southwest 11th and Stark (years earlier it was Camden’s short-lived Hop Dog), and feature four French dip sandwiches. The first is, unsurprisingly, a beef sandwich with a side of jus. Rather than serving something like sirloin, Camden is going with prime rib for the meat, slow roasted for up to 12 hours at low temperatures in a Combi oven for a “perfect medium rare.” It’s then sliced thin on a sandwich bun from Dos Hermanos and topped with horseradish cream. “Cheese does not belong on a beef French dip,” Camden explains. The jus is, naturally, made from the pan drippings.
Other sandwiches include a turkey dip inspired by Thanksgiving leftovers — brined and slow-roasted turkey on the same bun is spread with sage butter that evokes holiday stuffing, as well as a cranberry sauce that’s made with a house-made onion jam mixed with cranberry sauce from a “bottom shelf” can. Its accompanying jus is a thinned turkey gravy, to further drive home the feeling of late November meals. With a limited supply each day, Camden expects it to sell out during the lunch hour.
A roast pork with broccoli raab sandwich fills out the meat options, but vegetarians can find a mushroom French dip with celery root, fennel, and goat cheese. Camden describes the vegetarian mushroom jus as being an umami bomb with marsala and fennel pollen helping brighten it.
Sides are rooted in East Coast deli offerings, but given a twist, like a potato niçoise salad standing in for a more “traditional” potato salad, and a fennel slaw.
Camden admits there’s a challenge to opening during a pandemic, especially a spot in a now mostly vacated downtown; with offices closed and tourism practically non-existent, many other places are closing shop, not opening. He plans to rely largely on the speed of service for a high quality product — with most of the work being done on the back end with roasting and slicing, making a sandwich only takes a few seconds. He likens it to an experience with Chipotle where you’re in and out in a matter of moments.
Camden also plans on having a strong delivery presence through third-party apps, noting that his fried chicken spot Bae’s has continually performed as one of the top delivery choices in the city. His research also suggests that 70-percent of the city’s delivery goes out in a two-mile radius from Kevin and Franky’s location. Sandwiches will go out in double insulated wrap, and their jus served piping hot to make the trip.
Finally, he plans to work with local hotels who don’t currently have a kitchen, and will be able to run sandwich orders to hotel lobbies for delivery to guests. Even when dining rooms eventually reopen, Kevin and Franky’s won’t see any inside seating; it will remain strictly takeout and delivery.
Kevin and Franky’s has an opening date of November 7, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday to start. The restaurant’s website is coming soon, but the restaurant will be located at 1122 SW Stark Street.