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Portland Moves Toward Making Street Dining Permanent

Plus, Portland Fermentation Festival returns, and more news to know

Along the sidewalk outside Eem, little greenhouse-style pods lined with plastic house single tables for customers to use.
Outdoor seating cabanas at Eem.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland
Janey Wong is Eater Portland's reporter.

Next month, Portland City Council will vote on a Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plan that would allow restaurants to continue to use sidewalks and streets for seating. The Outdoor Dining Program would replace the bureau’s COVID-era Healthy Business Permit program, which gave restaurants and other retail businesses permits to use outdoor spaces.

The new program would issue annual “sidewalk cafe” permits and “street seats” permits that allow the use of parking spaces. A proposal for the Outdoor Dining Program was presented to Portland City Council on August 23 by Transportation Commissioner Mingus Mapps — it includes a tiered fee system with permit costs based on dining structures. Fees would be priced at a subsidized rate for 2024, with prices going up for a 2025 permit renewal or new permit application. To use the full width of a street, businesses would need to inquire with PBOT about the Street Plazas program.

Portland Fermentation Festival returns this fall with a bacterial petting zoo

After a three-year pandemic hiatus, the Portland Fermentation Festival will take over the Ecotrust Building on October 19. Visitors will be able to make a vegetable ferment at a DIY fermentation station, attend fermentation demos, sample fermented food and drinks, and build community with fellow fermenters. A bacterial petting zoo is new to the festival this year, which will feature SCOBYs (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), cultures, and vinegar mothers. Fermentation School co-founder and author Kirsten Shockey will give a keynote speech at the festival. Tickets for the event are available for $15 to $30 in advance or $20 to $35 the day of.

Portland chefs make appearances in Bobby Flay’s television empire

Chef Javier Canteras, founder of destination Spanish restaurant Urdaneta, will put his Basque-style cooking up against celebrity chef Bobby Flay, competing on this season of Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay. Canteras’ episodes are expected to air on September 14 and 15. Another high-profile Portland chef also made a recent appearance on a different Flay show: James Beard Award-winning chef Naomi Pomeroy served as a guest judge on the season two premiere of Bobby’s Triple Threat, which aired on August 22.