Ripe Cooperative — the restaurant, wine shop, and grab-and-go market from celebrated Portland chef Naomi Pomeroy — will close after service this Saturday, October 15. The chef posted on Instagram announcing the restaurant’s impending closure, also noting that she would leave the space that was previously home to her groundbreaking tasting menu restaurant Beast.
In a statement on the restaurant’s website, Pomeroy attributes the decision to close to the compounding challenges impacting the restaurant industry, including inflation and other rising costs. “The current landscape is making quality foodservice nearly impossible,” Pomeroy writes in a statement on Ripe’s website. “I want to live in a world of small beautiful things, but what I see out there is a big race to the middle, and Ripe is simply not cut out to make the necessary compromises and still be what we want it to be.”
In 2007, Pomeroy opened her restaurant, Beast, at 5425 NE 30th Avenue, a small, well-lit space off Killingsworth Street. The 24-seat dining room was home to communal tables, where Pomeroy would serve oxtail galettes and pork-crackling-topped corn soup in a tasting menu format. Pomeroy and her restaurant received mounds of praise both locally and nationally — Food & Wine named Pomeroy one of its Best New Chefs in 2009, and the chef won a James Beard Award for her work at Beast in 2014, after years of nominations.
Like countless other restaurants, Beast closed at the beginning of the pandemic, but Pomeroy intended to reopen the restaurant after the pandemic subsided. Instead, Pomeroy decided to retire the Beast concept — at least temporarily — and open something new in that space. Ripe Cooperative was meant to be a market for pre-made meals and ingredients like house-made pasta, salad dressings, and frozen custard, eventually expanding to include dine-in service. Dinners and lunches at Ripe Cooperative included everything from Dungeness crab rolls to ricotta-stuffed cappelletti, eaten at bistro tables along the sidewalk. While Ripe Cooperative accumulated positive press, just like Beast, it wasn’t enough to keep the restaurant afloat.
Pomeroy has yet to announce what she will do next, whether that’s a new restaurant, pop-ups, or another cafe; for now, she’s celebrating what she was able to do with Ripe Cooperative, even as it prepares to close.
“Instead of just moving to Europe, where cafe culture is alive and well, and people gather around small tables at all hours with friends and family, we tried bringing that spirit here instead,” Pomeroy writes in an Instagram post. “I think we more than succeeded, even as we retreat.”
Ripe Cooperative will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of this week, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.