Despite the financial uncertainty of the pandemic, some of Portland’s top restaurants will still land in Lake Oswego’s Mercato Grove development this spring.
Way back in 2019, restaurant group Chefstable announced some of its heavy hitters — St. Jack, Lardo, Oven and Shaker — would be heading to a new development in Lake Oswego in 2021. When the coronavirus pandemic blew through Portland, details on the development hit the backburner, while Chefstable CEO Kurt Huffman focused on keeping the current Chefstable restaurants afloat.
However, almost two months later, the company has released new details about the slate of restaurants moving into the multi-use complex Mercato Grove, including new-on-the-scene doughnut star Fills and the soon-to-be-revived brunch mainstay Tasty.
The Oregonian first reported on the newest, updated lineup of restaurants and bars heading to the development: Berliner shop Fills Donuts, fast-casual pasta spot Grassa, legendary Portland sandwich shop Lardo, French destination St. Jack, Pearl pizzeria Oven and Shaker and the once-closed Tasty. Lardo and Grassa will start selling delivery sandwiches and pastas, respectively, in April 2021, with Oven and Shaker following suit in May; all of the restaurants will open for onsite service on June 1.
Late last year, Chefstable announced it would acquire the once-legendary brunch brand, Tasty, known for its restaurants Tasty n Alder and Tasty n Daughters. John and Renee Gorham, who opened the restaurants, sold their restaurants and moved to Central Oregon following the circulation of some of John Gorham’s threatening social media posts. Chefstable owns Tasty with two former employees, and Portland’s newest star baker, Katherine Benvenuti of the tragically short-lived Bakery at Bar King, will handle the pastries.
Beyond the aforementioned restaurants and 206 apartments, the six-acre development will house Portland tea and coffee shop Ovation, a juice bar called Clean Juice, and a location of the gym brand Orangetheory Fitness. In addition, Mercato Grove will host a farmers market starting in March.
As the team has been building out the restaurants, COVID-19 has impacted the design and construction of the space, from the way plexiglass fits into the design to the installation of air handler systems. Nonetheless, there is a definite possibility that indoor dining might not be in the cards by the time Mercato Grove opens. Luckily, the actual format of the space lends itself to outdoor dining: the building is shaped like a U, with restaurants facing each other around a 5,000 square-foot outdoor dining area, with a Fills Donuts kiosk in the center serving doughnuts and soft serve.
Huffman says that all the restaurants within Mercato Grove will share a liquor license, which means diners can grab food or drinks from a number of different businesses within the space and meet in the shared outdoor dining space — similar to a food hall. “As a parent, I think that’s cool — I love the idea of being able to walk outside the restaurant and let (my kid) sprint around, instead of going, ‘Oh God, I have to leave my drink inside,’” he says. “If you want eat St. Jack and your kids want Lardo, you can get both. I think that really adds to the more chill, relaxed environment.”
Initially, the development had set aside a spot for a Lake Oswego branch of the beer bar Loyal Legion, which has been replaced by Tasty. However, Huffman is still planning on finding a spot for another location of Loyal Legion, eyeing expansion options in Vancouver and Beaverton. Between Mercato Grove and potential new locations for Tasty, Oven and Shaker, and Grassa, there’s a definite possibility that suburbanites will start seeing more Chefstable restaurants nearby in the near future.
Updated January 27, 2021, 2 p.m.
This story was updated to include comments from Kurt Huffman.
• Chefstable [Official]
• 6 of Portland’s Best Restaurants Are Coming to Lake Oswego [O]
• Six Portland restaurants announced for Lake Oswego development [PBJ]
• St. Jack and Five Other Portland Restaurants Will Open in Lake Oswego [EPDX]
• The ‘Tasty’ Restaurant Group is Coming Back, Opening a New Location in Lake Oswego [EPDX]
• John Gorham Steps Away From Restaurant Empire After Threatening Social Media Posts Surface [EPDX]