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Our Biggest Hopes for the Restaurant Industry in 2024

In a word? Survival.

The mural at Flour Bloom.
Flour Bloom.
Molly J. Smith/Eater Portland

Each December, Eater Portland ends the year by reflecting on the last twelve months of dining in a series we call Year in Eater. We reach out to Portland food writers and influencers for their perspectives on major trends, impressive newcomers, and standout meals, and share their responses in a single package.

This has been a difficult year for the restaurant industry both in Portland and around the country, particularly when it comes to the cost of goods, break-ins, and access to labor. Meanwhile, restaurant workers and their allies continue to fight for better protections, including higher wages, healthcare, and safer working conditions. When asked what they hope for in 2024, Portland’s professional diners consistently expressed concern for the sustainability of the restaurant industry, and the hope that it will continue to thrive — and grow — in 2024.

“I’ve heard so, so many restaurant owners and food service workers communicate that this has been one of the most brutal years for them. They’ve been dealing with a drop in business and countless break-ins, and all the while they’re working through so much grief, burnout, and exhaustion. My biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2024 is just, like, a break? An opportunity to breathe without going under? Relief from the public sector? Protections for restaurant workers?”

Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

“My biggest hope for the restaurant industry is for better resources and support. Under the current models in place in Portland and in the greater US, the cost of doing business is higher than ever. I’m always pretty worried about maintaining the longevity of our beloved restaurants, and my hope is that I’m not the only one and that we can all do something about it as diners, investors, and policymakers.”

— Nori de Vega (@nomnom_nori), Instagram personality

“My biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2024 is for expanded hours of operation to come back. It’s a little difficult for many folks who work service industry jobs or jobs with unusual hours to make it to a restaurant for dinner by 8 or 9 p.m., or a coffee shop before 4 p.m.”

Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor

I’ve enjoyed attending cultural festivals over the past few years and found some amazing new-to-me restaurants, carts, and dishes. I attended some before the pandemic, and have been glad to see them come back, but it seems like there are new festivals organizing all the time.”

— Andrew Jankowski, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

I hope for sustainable longevity. I hope more people go out to eat and stay out later. More going out for dessert somewhere special after 10 p.m. I really hope for the return of more concerts/festivals on the waterfront — I miss the sight of people bar crawling across the river/up and down MLK and filing into My Father’s Place for a 2 a.m. breakfast.”

Lauren Yoshiko, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

I hope the newly opened Queer Plants Cafe, Flour Bloom, and Cadejo Coffee all thrive next year so they inspire more queer-, women-, and BIPOC-owned places like them in Portland.”

Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), Instagram personality

At the end of the day, I’d like for the restaurant industry to be a place where people can make a livable wage, where the cost of running a business and the price of food doesn’t impact whether a restaurant survives or dies. I’m inspired by all of the worker-led movements this year aimed to improve the industry (re: unionization efforts, worker-owned cooperatives), but I’d like to see more innovative ways to collaborate with one another in the form of pop-ups, residencies, and partnerships — that’s how all boats rise.

“I also hope more people are nicer to restaurant workers — if you want a seat at the table, you best mind your manners, as Sutton Stracke would say.”

— Meira Gebel, Axios reporter and freelancer

I hope people continue to show up to support local restaurants. It’s already been slow the last couple months, and I’m sure the long rainy winter ahead will make things even more challenging. I’d also like to repeat what I said last year: ‘That the restaurant world continues its work surrounding cultural, inclusion, and equity.’ That work is never ending, and while I can feel a shift, I hope we continue that work together.”

Waz Wu, Eater Portland vegan correspondent and Veganizer organizer

“I believe that the economy will slow, maybe significantly. I worry about the impact that this will have on the PDX restaurant scene. Resiliency will be key, which PDX restaurants have exhibited in prior downturns.”

Gary Okazaki (@garythefoodie), renowned globe-trotting eater

That restaurants survive (or at least go out on their own terms) — and thrive enough that our dining landscape gets more late-night hours.”

Janey Wong, Eater Portland reporter

“To keep on keepin’ on!”

Vicki and Vanessa Ng (@foodbellypdx), Instagram personalities