Before COVID-19 hit Portland, restaurateur Gabriel Pascuzzi was going to sign the lease on his third restaurant. His chicken-centric spot in Slabtown, Mama Bird, was going well, so he thought he’d open a bowl cafe, Feel Good, in the spring; the shop would top grains and cauliflower rice with charred vegetables and fancy sauces.
Instead, he started off his spring by temporarily shutting down his first restaurant, Stacked Sandwich Shop, and closing Mama Bird for the second time since it opened in September (he decided to add a special smoke “scrubber” for the wood-fired restaurant). Months later, now that Mama Bird has reopened and settled into its takeout routine, Pascuzzi is going to open Feel Good — as a pop-up inside Stacked.
Pascuzzi decided to use Stacked as a home base to try things out first, considering the fact he had to keep the sandwich shop closed; the chef says the meat shortage and rising price of protein has made reopening that restaurant difficult. “It’s hard for us to just take two sandwiches off,” he says. “It’s a well-oiled machine when it all works together, but otherwise, it gets clunky.” Instead, Feel Good’s bowls generally avoid meat-based protein; any bowl can get an add-on of poached Mary’s chicken breast or Painted Hills flatiron steak, but the bowls themselves are completely vegetarian.
Every bowl at Feel Good starts with a base, things like red quinoa or cauliflower rice. Then, customers choose between five pre-set bowls. For instance, the Smokey Roots comes with garlic sumac yogurt, smoked beets, charred onions, sautéed kale and garlic, roasted carrots, dill, mint, carrot tops, pickled mustard seeds, and bee pollen. Many of the current employees dig the Fall Vibes, which comes with sunflower almond butter, seasonal squash, rainbow chard, apple, and pickled chard stems, among other things. “We don’t want to be known as a health brand,” he says. “They taste good, and they’re good for you.”
Down the line, the restaurateur doesn’t want to turn Stacked into Feel Good full-time; he wants to reopen his sandwich shop, and find Feel Good its own space. Still, he didn’t want to wait to open his business until coronavirus disappeared, and unable to reopen Stacked, he thought it seemed like a good fit. “[Stacked] is just sitting here not making money; I have to pay rent,” he says. “[Feel Good] is fairly simple, and it hits perfectly right now. Everybody’s feeling like shit, so feeling good is a good thing.”
Feel Good will open within Stacked on May 20, for takeout or delivery.
• Feel Good [Official]
• Feel Good [Instagram]
• An Eater Portland Chef of the Year Opens His Grilled Chicken Shop Today [EPDX]
• Grilled chicken restaurant Mama Bird to close for three weeks after smoke complaints [O]