As the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon continues to impact the local restaurant market, stories are popping up across the city, from food cart owners giving away free meals to chefs starting Instagram cooking classes. In this new version of AM Intel, we dive into different ways the state’s food service industry has been responding to the global pandemic. For more COVID-19 stories, check out our larger story stream.
Two More Counties Will Open
Marion and Polk counties have been approved to begin phase one reopening Friday, May 22, which means bars and restaurants in that area can begin serving onsite customers with certain restrictions (six feet spacing between tables, a 10 p.m. curfew, etc.). The two counties originally applied to reopen on May 15, but their applications were rejected.
That means only the three Portland-area counties — Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington — are left to begin phase one reopening. Clackamas County, which is home to places like Milwaukie and Happy Valley, is still under review for reopening, but the state has yet to release a verdict. Washington county plans to file an application to reopen on Friday.
Multnomah County officials have been hesitant to set a timeline for the reopening of Portland proper, but the latest update to the “dashboard” tracking the met criteria for phase one reopening indicates Multnomah County still needs to bolster its contact tracing efforts.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is now fast-tracking liquor licenses for outdoor areas, meaning bars and restaurants may have an easier time wrangling sidewalk seating and beer gardens than they have in the past. This new initiative could be crucial for some of the business owners nervous about the indoor seating restrictions in phase one reopening — by opening up seating outdoors in parking lots or on sidewalks, business owners may be better suited to accommodate the loss of revenue of the limited indoor seating capacity. Plus, some restaurant owners feel more comfortable reopening with outdoor seating, as it’s generally better ventilated to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. Businesses can apply for the fast-tracked outdoor seating through a new application on the OLCC website.
New in the Takeout Scene
Today, Ned Ludd and Ataula return to the Portland restaurant market with takeout options, following similar unveilings from Jacqueline, Tastebud, and others. Even Ox started slinging some limited, one-off takeout options, but all those orders have sold out — for now. Another exciting reopening: Tails & Trotters’ sandwich counter is back in business, with contactless ordering for those interested.
In other news...
• Those with big jam-making plans need not fret: Pick-your-own season will go on as planned, meaning farmers are cleared to welcome Portlanders to collect their own strawberries, cherries, and other fruit and flowers. Sure, there will be some social distancing measures put in place, does that surprise anyone anymore? [Portland Monthly]
• A twitter user filmed a New Seasons customer going off about how “women suck,” because a fellow customer asked the man to wear a mask. A New Seasons employee is shown in the video asking the man to leave. [Willamette Week]
• Many Oregon wine country tasting rooms have begun to reopen, though not all of the winemakers in the Willamette Valley feel ready to do so. One winery is trying out a different model: On Friday, May 22 from 3 to 8 p.m., Rex Hill in Newberg will offer a “drive thru” bottle pickup, with wine not only from their vineyard but wineries like Walter Scott, Alloro Vineyard, and Hazelfern Cellars. A live band will be onsite, as well as Olympia Provisions for family meals and snacks. Those looking for a more typical wine tasting experience can do so at Stoller, which released a music video explaining the safety guidelines for in-person tasting. [EaterWire]
Disclosure: Eater Portland editor Brooke Jackson-Glidden is in a relationship with an employee of Rex Hill.