Naomi Pomeroy announced earlier this month that Beast, her trailblazing restaurant that defined Portland dining, would not reopen in the NE 30th Avenue space it’s called home since 2007, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, she’s announced what’s next: Portland Monthly reports a neighborhood market called Ripe Cooperative will take over the space, featuring Pomeroy-curated pantry items, take-and-bake meals, cheeses, fresh pasta, house-churned ice cream, and “themed, restaurant quality take-home meals” complete with cooking instructions — a hyper-local take on the pre-measured meal kit. The market is “tentatively” slated to open in late November.
The name, of course, harks back to the project that first made Pomeroy’s name on the local culinary scene. Ripe, the catering company co-founded by Pomeroy and Michael Hebb, launched in 2002 and became known for its ragtag approach to pop-up dinners and “Family Suppers”; its influence trickled down throughout the local restaurant industry until it folded in 2006. “What was unique about their point of view became the identity of what Portland’s food scene is now,” Mike Thelin, cofounder of the Feast food festival, told PoMo back in 2016. When Beast shuttered earlier this month, Pomeroy did not rule out the possibility of reopening the restaurant elsewhere, but told the Oregonian at the time that it would likely be in a bigger space that was more accommodating to COVID-19 realities. “I don’t want to call this the death of fine dining,” she said. “It’s just a really big retooling of what dining out means.”
The reborn Ripe Cooperative, co-owned by former Beast chef de cuisine Lucian Prellwitz, will feature a co-op element, with members receiving early-access perks. Pomeroy, who’s become a vocal advocate for the restaurant industry during COVID-19 as part of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, tells Karen Brooks that Ripe employees will benefit from an equitable pay structure, paid time off, and profit-sharing. In a Twitter announcement, Pomeroy writes, “We look very forward to welcoming past and future hungry community members to our new project.”
Pomeroy has yet to respond to Eater Portland’s request for comment. This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.
• Ripe Cooperative [Twitter]
• Chef Naomi Pomeroy Reveals Her Next Project: Ripe Cooperative [PoMo]