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A Group of Ava Gene’s and Tusk Alums Are Opening a Pizzeria and Cafe in Northeast Portland

Plus, Bill Gates and Mark Cuban are pouring money into a Portland food startup, and other news

The great pizzeria boom shows absolutely no signs of stopping: While both Meta Pizza and Pizzeria Stellina prepare to open in Southeast Portland, a group of Tusk and Ava Gene’s alumni have banded together to open a new restaurant in Northeast Portland, Portland Monthly reports. Cafe Olli, taking over the former Ned Ludd space, will serve as a combination all-day cafe and pizzeria, with sandwiches, pastas, and mains coming out of the wood-fired oven that was key to its predecessor’s success. The management team is almost exclusively made up of former Submarine Hospitality employees, the company that owns Tusk and Ava Gene’s: Ryan Dirks, Submarine’s former brand director; Cami Wong, a former Tusk general manager; Daniel Green, former Submarine head baker; and Taylor Manning, a former Ava Gene’s chef de cuisine. The baker behind pandemic pop-up Saint Frances, Siobhan Speirits, handles the morning pastries. The restaurant will serve two different types of pizza — Roman and thinner-crusted rounds — at different points throughout the day. It should open in late November at 3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

The team’s former employer, Submarine Hospitality, was in significant hot water last year, after a number of anonymous former employees alleged a pattern of homophobia, racism, and misogyny within the restaurant group. In response, Submarine hired a former bartender and employee as an HR and cultural advocate, and hired a consulting firm to help address the issues within the company from the perspective of its employees. The team at Cafe Olli specifically noted that they wanted to create a “less hierarchical” kitchen, distributing 50 percent of the net profits from the restaurant with the full restaurant staff and making all employees partial owners. Those looking to learn more can read the full story here. [PoMo]

Bill Gates and Mark Cuban Invested $4 Million in a Portland Food Startup

Neutral Foods, the North Portland carbon neutral food company, is about to level up. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mark Cuban Companies are investing $4 million in the company between the two of them, as the company prepares to land in more than 500 Whole Foods stores nationwide. Neutral Foods is known for its “carbon neutral milk,” measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy suppliers and investing in carbon offsets. [PBJ]

PoMo Gives a New(Ish) Alberta Cart a Rave

Mole Mole, a prolific Mexican food cart, opened within a small NE Alberta pod this summer, but Portland Monthly food editor Katherine Chew Hamilton thinks its carne en su jugo should be a “winter classic” as the weather turns. In general, Chew Hamilton thinks the cart is “Alberta’s new must-try cart,” particularly enamored with its sikil pak and mole. It’s open and serving everything from burritos to pescado empapelado at 2231 NE Alberta Street. [PoMo]

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