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After Years Closed, Portland Southwestern Restaurant High Noon Will Return With a Glow-Up

The new High Noon, in a luxurious Goose Hollow apartment building, will have an app, a mezzanine bar, and more

A digital rending of a spacious restaurant and upstairs bar in a beige color scheme.
High Noon
High Noon
Janey Wong is Eater Portland's reporter.

When High Noon opened downtown in 2015, it became known as a reliable late-night watering hole for margaritas, palomas, and other tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails. Diners dug into crowd-favorite Southwestern dishes like nachos and smothered tater tots in the casual lounge-like space, which had vintage-y roadside vibes, complete with walls plastered with posters from old Westerns.

Half a decade after closing, the restaurant is making its comeback — with a glow-up. In a whopping 4,951-square-foot space inside the luxury Sawbuck apartment building in Goose Hollow, the new and improved High Noon, set to open in the winter of 2022, will sport an herb-packed living wall and floor-to-ceiling windows, encompassed by a neutral palette inspired by the desert. Upstairs, a spiral staircase leads to an intimate mezzanine bar made from cross-laminated timber, a nod to a saloon. To complement its shiny new digs, the new High Noon plans to offer exclusive amenities to tenants, like tasting events and first dibs on reservations.

The closure of High Noon’s first iteration all came down to timing. Owners Jessica and Aaron Grimmer had their hands full with their other restaurants (Picnic House and Barlow), raising their two elementary school-aged kids, appearing in the web series Last Meal, and contending with Jessica’s recent stage four endometriosis diagnosis. But the idea behind High Noon is one they had always hoped to return to, one that’s close to home for Jessica Grimmer, who grew up in the high desert of Utah. She wanted to highlight the ingredients and cultures of the region, but use fresh Northwest ingredients to make Southwest classics.

“I spent those years exploring the magnificent nature and cultures of that part of the west,” Jessica Grimmer says. “There were a lot of ghost towns. We drank Shastas and watched fireworks and celebrated the local Indigenous communities. There’s something about the desert… something magical.”

Years later, her husband, Aaron Grimmer, was booking a restaurant for their daughter’s prom dinner when he had a lightbulb moment. Coming out of the pandemic, he wanted to make sure she had a special experience — specifically, a restaurant that provided something a cut above standard dine-in. Even though he was willing to pay more for such a service, he couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. Viewing it as a missed opportunity, he started exploring the idea of experiential dining and travel. That led to creating an app — developed in collaboration with local digital consulting agency Graybox — that provides unique experiences and premium service, akin to how a hotel concierge might plan a fancy dinner, class, or excursion for a guest.

“We have so much more emphasis on experiences and the story beyond just consuming food,” Aaron Grimmer says. “I think after being in lockdown, there’s a greater demand now than ever for that.”

The development of the app, called GOSH, ended up working in tandem with the revival of High Noon. Expanding the scope of a traditional restaurant, High Noon will cater to Sawbuck residents with things like standing reservations, liquor and food tastings (some of which may inform future menus), and a grab-and-go area for easy takeaway dinners. Some of these perks will be accessed through the app, Sawbuck residents will test before it becomes available to the larger community.

“It’s an advantageous opportunity to be a part of Sawbuck with these tenants and have them help us create the ideal experience,” Jessica Grimmer says. “[To] be their local haunt and be able to adjust our business models to what they love, and hopefully be able to scale that.”

To keep up with the luxe appetites of the clientele, the new High Noon will have a stylish, meticulously designed dining room, a collaboration between Jessica Grimmer and Shea Gilligan and Kristen Barrow of Brett Schulz Architects. Coming into a new rather than inherited space, Jessica Grimmer was able to tailor the look and practical elements of the restaurant to her specifications, zeroing in on everything from recessed lighting to dining room acoustics to a climate controlled workspace and cutting edge appliances. They hope to use the upstairs bar in different capacities, and have been in talks with a local whiskey company to host poker tournaments.

The Grimmers are also hoping to level up the food at High Noon, with some research. While the new menu will likely include High Noon hits such as chili, tortilla soup, and arepas, the Grimmers are leaving things open-ended for the moment. They plan to travel through the Southwest this fall to get some inspiration and visit local distilleries and makers along the way. Whatever dishes they decide on will be fine tuned by Jessica, while Aaron takes on the front of house. The bar side of the equation will follow a more solid throughline from High Noon’s beginnings to its future, remaining heavily focused on tequila and mezcal.

“I’ve always believed that the cuisine is dictated by the customer,” Jessica Grimmer says. “Being innovative, I think that’s the only way [restaurants] are going to survive. Taking pride in what we have and taking it to the next level—what we could be—is important.”

High Noon will open within the Sawbuck apartment complex, at 1725 SW Salmon Street.