In 2019, veteran restaurant worker Nikeisah Newton started driving grain bowls and salads to strip clubs around the Portland area at 2 a.m., trying to feed under-served dancers and sex workers after shifts. She called her food delivery service Meals 4 Heels, taking orders primarily through Instagram direct messages. “I want to be realistic,” she said at the time. “I don’t need to be a household name, but I’d like to be a dressing room name.”
In certain Portland circles, however, Newton has become a household name: The chef has made meals for fundraisers and events like Roux and Queer Soup Night, fed protesters fighting police brutality and racism in Portland, and feeds food-insecure and unhoused Portlanders through various mutual aid efforts. Now, Portlanders can find her food any given day at one standing location: Newton has opened a cafe in Southeast Portland, serving sweet potato glass noodles topped with pickled cucumbers and truffled tomatoes, lemon-pepper couscous with marinated artichokes, and black-eyed pea fritters.
The Meal 4 Heels cafe is located within the Powerhouse Cafe space, at the Redd on Salmon building. The Powerhouse Cafe is a shared use space that houses established businesses owned by people of color, non-binary business owners, and women, as a way to scale. The tenants usually stay for around two years. Meals 4 Heels’ new spot focuses on the lunch crowd, taking walk-up orders from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The menu, though, includes many of the dishes Newton has been serving from the get-go, including the “Gettin That Paper” bowl with cauliflower and sweet potato noodles and the “Verbal Tipper” with lemon-pepper couscous, preserved vegetables, and balsamic. Other dishes range from spiced mushrooms and chow chow, black-eyed pea fritters on collard greens, and house-made sodas.
Newton still wants the core of her business to center on sex workers, although as the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down various strip clubs — temporarily or permanently — that side of her business has been slower than it was in 2019. She hopes to return to that clientele as they return to dressing rooms once again. Until then, Meals 4 Heels’ cafe is located at 831 SE Salmon Street.
• Meals 4 Heels [Official]
• Meals 4 Heels menu [Facebook]
• Portland’s New Delivery Company Serves Grain Bowls to Strippers [EPDX]
• Food Delivery Service Meals 4 Heels Is Serving Vegan Noodle Bowls to Protesters [EPDX]
• A New Lunch Counter Will Feed Portland’s Sex Workers [PoMo]