Lazy Susan, the casual neighborhood restaurant from a supergroup of Portland culinary talent, was two weeks away from opening when COVID-19 hit Portland. But according to partner Andrew Mace, the setback ended up being a relief. “It was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “We’re just taking our time, trying to see what is successful for other businesses, what’s not working, what precautions people are taking... We’re re-evaluating what it means to be a business owner. We’re educating ourselves on social issues.”
Three months later, Lazy Susan’s dining room is still not open, but the restaurant has tip-toed into the Portland market: Now, Mace and the larger Lazy Susan team has started serving lunches in Montavilla, grilling meats and scooping potato salad right outside the restaurant.
In early 2020, Earl Ninsom (Hat Yai), Andrew Mace (formerly Le Pigeon), and Nora Mace (formerly Ava Gene’s) announced that they would be opening a restaurant in the former Country Cat space. Although Ninsom is known for his several regional Thai restaurants, Lazy Susan would be more reminiscent of a high-end Bennigan’s: dry-aged steaks, shrimp cocktails, layer cakes, and pork chops. “It reminds me of a place my grandparents would take us,” Nora Mace, the restaurant’s partner and pastry chef, told Eater PDX in February.
Now, they’ve gone full family cookout: from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, the team serves things like house-made fennel sausage, crispy-crusted pork shoulder with chimichurri, and lemon pepper shrimp, accompanied by sides of cabbage in mustard-chicken fat dressing or radish salads with snap peas and basil. Generally, the team sources vegetables from Glasrai Farm at the Montavilla Farmers Market, improvising with what’s available. “It was super important for us to get in tune with the neighborhood,” Andrew Mace says. “Everyone has been super awesome; we couldn’t be more happy with where we are in the city.”
Each $15 lunch comes with a mix-and-match of grilled meats and veggies, plus potato salad and a roll. Han Oak alum Michelle Ruocco is handling the cocktails — slushies with melon and sherry, for instance — and the restaurant is also offering beer, wine, and Dr Pepper floats. Diners can grab seats outside the restaurant, eat and drink, and take home bottles of wines and, down the line, grill kits with Lazy Susan’s own branded charcoal.
The timing is a little tough: Chef Julian Calcott’s partner just had a baby, and the Maces will have their own next month. Still, the cookouts should continue, until the restaurant opens more seriously later this summer. “We’re going to keep it going,” Andrew Mace says. “We have a good team here, we’ll just keep doing that as long as we can.”
Lazy Susan is open for lunch at 7937 Southeast Stark Street.
• Lazy Susan [Instagram]
• Eem and Le Pigeon Alums Will Open a Casual Neighborhood Restaurant in Montavilla [EPDX]