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.
The Return of OOB
The lauded Olympia Oyster Bar from chef Maylin Chavez closed at the end of 2019, which might have been a small blessing in disguise considering the massive upsets the industry has faced in 2020. In any case, the restaurant has had a few pop-ups since, and its most recent will be ceviche and oyster takeout at White Owl Social Club on Sunday, July 26. Simon Lowry of the pop-up wine bar Sardine Head will be selling some wines to go along with the seafood.
The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. or until sold out, and the menu and ordering information are available on Instagram. Ordering by Thursday is strongly recommended.
The Oregonian reports that, despite the phase one reopening for dining rooms in Portland, restaurants are not exactly bouncing back. Using data from the reservation system Open Table as well as job reports from the state, the paper found that reservations were down around 80-percent from last year, despite a resurgence in industry staffing. It’s unclear if people are going out and not making reservations, or doing so with a different site, but regardless it seems very slow for restaurants. With 436 new cases of COVID-19 in Oregon recorded yesterday — just one fewer than the record breaking day last Thursday, July 16 — it’s understandable that people might be a bit hesitant to dine out.
A Lincoln City restaurant has come under recent fire for its name—Street Roots first reported that Myriam Macleod of Sandy, OR, set up an online petition calling for a name change for Lil’ Sambo’s, a 60-plus-year old diner named for the late 19th century children’s book The Story of Little Black Sambo. The book has been condemned for decades for its pickaninny depiction of its titular character as well as its other racist caricatures, and the term “Sambo” has long been used as a racist slur against Black people.
The petition has gathered over 800 signatures at the time of publication, and a Portland resident (formerly of Lincoln City herself), Serena Dressel, has called for a social media boycott campaign of Lil’ Sambo’s, the Willamette Week reports. A number of one-star Yelp comments have also called for a boycott, and Yelp photos as recent as last October show copies of the eponymous children’s book for sale at the restaurant’s gift shop. The Willamette Week also reports that Cary Moore, the restaurant’s general manager and son of the current owner — who bought the restaurant in 1993 — has said the team does not plan on changing the name anytime soon.