When owner Christine Burmeister’s Daily Feast PDX opened in May 2016, she wanted to continue the legacy of a Portland classic. The space was home to Leo’s Non-Smoking Coffee Shop in the Medical Dental Building for over 30 years; her revamped version of the corner diner now operates as a nostalgia-factory for multiple generations. “One woman sobbed at our counter, remembering when she’d come with her mother after dentist appointments and have lunch,” Burmeister says. “She sat in the same stool – but this time, her feet touched the ground. That’s what a city is: places that are there forever. You come back when you’re older and remember being there as a kid.”
That’s what Burmeister is trying to capture with Taylor Street Kitchen, an ambitious market and all-day cafe with a completely different tone than the Daily Feast – wide open, airy, and recalling other iconic Portland establishments like Elephants Delicatessen and Providore Fine Foods. “When I was dreaming it up, I was just trying to put together all the things that were important to me as a person, mom, wife, and eater,” she says. That meant coffee and pastries, lunchtime salads and sandwiches, family-night pizza and date-night wine, all alongside a market that would put special emphasis on the bountiful state of Oregon. Here, Burmeister wants to expand her reach, creating a new stalwart food experience that feels even more personal.
Over the course of the pandemic, markets from known Portland entities have opened around the city, places like Italian market Cooperativa (from the team behind Irving Street Kitchen) and bottle-shop-meets-deli Ripe Cooperative (from Beast owner Naomi Pomeroy). But the idea for Taylor Street Kitchen predates the pandemic: For years, Burmeister had been fantasizing about opening her own market. When she began looking for a space for Taylor Street Kitchen, she didn’t have to go far – the space next door, a former eyeglass shop that had stood vacant for years seemed the perfect fit.
Then COVID hit, and the idea was put on the back burner. The Daily Feast survived two months of early pandemic closure before transitioning from a year of plexiglass-and-plywood takeout, eventually resuming a semi-normal dine-in experience. “It was our five-year anniversary and it was a big moment when we took the boards off,” she says.“The neighborhood has been really supportive of the Feast since the beginning.”
But as Burmeister headed back to work next door, she began feeling pushback from those outside the neighborhood who weren’t so supportive. “People were like, ‘Oh my God, why would you ever open anything else downtown?!” she says. “You should close the Feast and move it to Lake Oswego.’ And, you know, I love Lake Oswego, it’s a beautiful place, but a city needs a downtown. If we say that Portland’s important to us, and we love it here, you can’t kill downtown.”
Burmeister stuck to her instincts and opened Taylor Street Kitchen in November 2021. Assisting in the execution of Burmeister’s vision is a trio of established Portland talent in the back-of-house. Baker Jared Stiffler has made all the sandwich bread for the Daily Feast since they opened; he continues to do so at Taylor Street, but has now expanded his operation to include whole loaves for sale. In addition to the market’s breads, Stiffler has crafted a slow-fermented pizza dough that’s a crispy and chewy vehicle for chef Bill Wallender’s toppings. Wallender, former executive chef at Quaintrelle and chef de cuisine at Ava Gene’s, knows his stuff, and is a stickler for seasonal vegetables from local farms for all of the pizzas and salads. Ken Puckett, a retired accountant and teacher who followed a lifelong dream to pastry school, rounds out the team with a sweets program that includes cheesecakes, cookies, and carrot cake.
The market is anchored by an enticing deli case filled with the three chefs’ creations on one side, and cafe-style seating on the other. A wide selection of Oregon beer and wine on shelves and in fridges around the perimeter includes the funky stuff and the standards. “When my mom comes in, she wants, like, a Willamette Valley pinot, so we’ve got the classics,” Burmeister says. “But we’ve also got the orange wine, the biodynamic wine, the pet nats, the lambruscos.”
Pantry shelves in the center of the space are stocked with honey from Henry Storch in Philomath, Loving Fungi root beer from Bend, and tons of sauces and products from Portland makers like Bobbie’s Boat Sauce, Flavor Society, Momo Cocoa, and Spella coffee. In the cold cases, visitors will find pork and chicken from Totum Farm in Blodgett. “We’re a lot of things at once,”Burmeister says. “I didn’t quite realize what I had done until it was done! And it’s really exciting to think about how it’s still going to evolve.”
That evolution will undoubtedly be influenced by the local community that Burmeister created the space for – she’s already plotting ways the market can become a more welcoming space for everyone in the area, from office workers to families walking home from Timbers games to Lincoln High school students. “I wanna be open. I wanna be here,” Burmeister says. “I want to make something that feels like it has been and will be here forever. I’m really hopeful and committed to the idea that a downtown in any city is sort of the most enduring space. I hope I am participating in that.”