When sisters Lee and Lauren Gonzalez decided to flee their Wall Street jobs, they moved to Barcelona to open a tiny, 10-room hostel. “We did every job — housekeeping, check in,” Lauren Gonzalez says. It was only fitting, then, that the bar at their latest hostel — Lolo Pass, newly open on East Burnside — would lightly nod to their years in Spain. But the two still wanted the bar to feel like a part of Portland, true to the city. Their solution was to hire Emily Metivier.
For those unfamiliar, Metivier is an under-the-radar legend in the Portland restaurant scene. She spent years as the general manager at the late-great Ataula, working alongside Jose Chesa and Cristina Baez, and eventually opened Masia with them in 2020. Metivier was in the process of launching the team’s restaurant group, Egg White Hospitality, when COVID-19 decimated the restaurant industry. Chesa and Baez closed their Portland restaurants, and Metivier was looking for something to do next. When she applied to work at Lolo Pass, the Gonzalez sisters felt like they had struck gold. “We hired Emily three weeks before we opened,” she says. “When I saw her application come in, I said, ‘Oh, we have to hire her.’ She came in and we clicked immediately.” Metivier went on to hire Myeonghwan ‘Kevin’ Choi, an alum of both Masia and Ataula, to run the kitchen; now, Lolo Pass is vying to be the summery spot for low-proof cocktails, Spanish conservas, fried artichokes, and city views.
Lolo Pass, like Icelandic outpost Kex, is meant to be a stylish, accessible take on a European hostel: Shared bunk rooms around $40 per bed, private rooms clocking in around $125, with plenty of cool shared spaces outside the bedrooms. In the lobby, a cocktail bar connects to the check-in counter, surrounded by a smattering of tables, cozy furniture, and denim couches in the window. A gallery space displays pieces from Portland artists next to yet-to-open coffee bar that will pour Portland-roasted espresso and Smith Teamaker teas. And up on the top floor, past a shared kitchen for guests, a rooftop patio offers a setting for glasses of Oregon wine, pineapple-infused Old Fashioneds, and — starting later this year — free outdoor movies.
The food menu is meant to stay simple: Once the hotel’s restaurant is in full swing, the plan is to offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but at the moment, the bar is just serving simple bar snacks and dishes reliant on Oregon produce. For instance, Gathering Together farm strawberries come with whipped cream and dulce de leche, and greens from the same farm arrive tossed in a herb-mustard vinaigrette. Radishes, snap peas, and mint adhere to a piece of sourdough toast with a swipe of ricotta. Customers can build their own boards with a choice of charcuterie, West Coast cheeses paired with strawberry chutney, and tinned fish like Spanish anchovies or mussels, served with vermouth sauce and pickled asparagus. And, as a nod to a beloved snack they ate in Barcelona, the Gonzalez sisters insisted on a bowl of fried artichokes for the menu, served with a Calabrian chile aioli.
To pair with the menu, the bar specializes in light drinks like spritzes and highballs. The bar’s take on an Aperol spritz comes with Combier Pamplemousse, a touch of elderflower adds some cheer to a gin and tonic, and the bar’s Old Fashioned gets a pineapple infusion. The beer and wine list pulls from Willamette Valley, with bottles from Walter Scott and Heater Allen, as well as other Oregon breweries like Upright and Pfriem. “I want people familiar with Oregon wines to go, ‘Ooh, this is an interesting wine list.’” Lauren Gonzalez says.
After moving back to the United States, the Gonzalez sisters opened a Long Island City hostel called the Local. When Lauren Gonzalez came to visit Portland, however, she thought the city was in need of something similar. “Back then, before places like Kex and the Hoxton and Moxy opened, there was a huge gap in price between the budget end of things, and what was interesting and cool,” she says. They started working on the hotel in 2019, but — surprise, surprise — COVID-19 slowed down the process. The hotel opened in late May, with the bar following soon after.
Down the line, Lolo Pass wants to start bringing in djs, live musicians, and comics to perform in the space, but for now, the hostel and bar is open — to travelers and to everyone else. “We wanted to create a space where you feel comfortable,” Lauren Gonzalez says. “We want locals here; we want our neighbors here.”
Lolo Pass is open at 1616 E Burnside Street.
• Lolo Pass [Official]
• Lolo Pass Is Portland’s Latest Hostel-Hotel Hybrid Now Open on East Burnside Street [WWeek]