Deadstock Coffee owner Ian Williams wasn’t interested in expanding. The roaster and ex-Nike shoe developer, who runs a tiny cafe in Portland’s Old Town, has been suspicious of people who have come out of the woodwork this year looking for “collaborations” — and a lot of labor — just to tokenize him. So when the team at HMS Development reached out to him about opening a new location on NE Alberta Street, he initially shrugged them off. “I went, ‘Sounds cool, but whatever,’” he says. “It’s a new development — it just sounded expensive.”
But HMS, a partnership between Portland-born NFL player Ndamukong Suh and construction vet Joel Andersen, were set on Deadstock. Williams started chatting with them more often, and he warmed up to the idea: He liked that the developers were focusing on Black business owners and business owners of color; he liked that he could get straight answers from the development team, and that he was working with them directly instead of a broker. “‘Okay, I’m interested, but I don’t really know’ turned into ‘This sounds fantastic, but I have no money,’” Williams says. “They just went, ‘If you tell us where you are, we can help.’” Within months, Williams had signed on: Next year, Deadstock’s Lebronald Palmers will land at Alberta Alley, a new development on 30th and NE Alberta.
He’s not alone: Not all of the shops within the development are public just yet, but Pearl District taqueria Papi Chulo’s will also open an Alberta Alley location, serving tacos on Three Sisters tortillas, burritos stuffed with cochinita pibil, and margaritas on-tap. The original restaurant opened in December 2019, a colorful counter-service spot serving birria tacos and micheladas. The second location will have a similar feel, with birria burritos, tacos, and margarita pitchers to drink in the Alberta Alley courtyard.
Alberta Alley will consist of six individual storefronts, joined by a shared pedestrian alleyway underneath a covered patio. Both Papi Chulo’s and Deadstock will also have limited indoor seating within their storefronts, but the alley also serves as a shared courtyard for the development, where people can eat tacos, drink coffee, or hang out and shop.
While Papi Chulo’s design will be very similar to the original location, Williams describes the new Deadstock as a cleaner, more “put together” version of his original space. “It’ll look a little more like a coffee shop you would go to, but the Deadstock version of that,” he says. “Our current (cafe) feels a little more like your high school bedroom.” That means the new cafe will still have the same focus on hip hop, sneakers, and killer coffee Deadstock is known for. “One of the owners was like, ‘When I’m in town, I want a place where I can sit and be with my friends,’” Williams says. “I went, ‘Oh I can do that. You want to chill? I can make it so you can chill.’”
Suh, a defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, isn’t new to the Portland food industry: The Grant High alum also co-owns fried chicken shop Baes, burger chain Super Deluxe, and fish and chips spot Rock Paper Fish with local restaurateur Micah Camden. This development, however, gives him the opportunity to invest in businesses he’s admired from afar. In a written statement, Suh said: “Our connection to the restaurants paired with the timing of the project and the vibrant, historic, location in Northeast Portland, made the decision to support them in this next step a no-brainer.”
Alberta Alley is located at 3003 NE Alberta Street, and will open in 2021.