Sanjay Chandrasekaran, the founder of the longstanding Indian restaurant the Sudra, has opened a number of different vegan restaurants in his career: bowl-and-smoothie cafe Rabbits, Italian restaurant Lilla, Daylily Coffee Shop. But these days, Chandrasekaran is in his cocktail lounge era. Months after opening tropical bar XO in the former Fremont-Mississippi Sudra space, the restaurateur joined forces with the creators of Victoria, Uncanny, and Lightning Bar Collective to open June — a cocktail bar with vegan snacks, craft drinks, and a 1920s Art Deco aesthetic in downtown Beaverton. The space was previously occupied by the Beaverton location of the Sudra, which closed in early April.
June’s powerhouse team includes Lightning Bar Collective’s John Janulis and Liam Duffy, who are behind quintessential Portland bars like Sweet Hereafter and Bye and Bye. Ben Hufford of Design Department and LBC lends his design expertise to renovate the sprawling Beaverton space. Meanwhile, Adam LeBeau, who is known for the bar programs at Victoria and Uncanny, developed an approachable drinks menu with spirit-based and nonalcoholic cocktails, to pair with Chandrasekaran’s drinking snacks.
Similar to XO, the plates at June offer glimpses of The Sudra — especially in condiments like chile-garlic sauce and jalapeno chutney — but Chandrasekaran says June feels “different and [is] its own thing.” Chandrasekaran’s small plates deliver a mix of salty, crunchy, fried, and spicy notes, like turmeric-roasted Brussels sprouts with miso-curry ranch and kale pakoras with mango chutney and soy yogurt, for instance. Masala fries arrive with tandoori beet ketchup and cilantro-mint aioli for dipping or as a larger portion topped with tempeh, caramelized onions, tomato chutney, and roasted red pepper chutney. The June Burger may feel familiar to fans of the burger at Chandrasekaran’s now-closed Killingsworth cafe Rabbits; the blended Beyond and lentil burger patty gets a masala spice makeover at June. For dessert, June offers ginger-cardamom cake and gluten-free pakora banana with fruity compotes and vanilla ice cream.
At the bar, June aims to please a wide range of cocktail drinkers. “We’re going for a really approachable menu that still has a lot of flair,” says bar manager James Ault. The bar offers a couple drinks on tap, like the Vickie Baby, a refreshing, botanical, and fruity ode to sister bar Victoria made of gin, escubac, strawberry, passionfruit, and lime. On the other end of the cocktail range, the spirit-forward Lowdown combines rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Montenegro amaro, orange liqueur, and tiki bitters for a bold and complex sipper. Those who don’t imbibe will find equally exciting options, such as a pineapple-orange coconut creamsicle, hemp-based nonalcoholic spirit mixed with blueberry and lemon, as well as a refreshing strawberry-lemon shrub with soda that some may recognize from the Uncanny. The bar program is entirely vegan, as well, using ingredients like beet sugar and agave in place of honey.
To set the mood as a welcoming, upscale cocktail bar, the space has been outfitted with light wood details, a sleek granite bar, French bistro-style chairs, and scallop-patterned lamp shades. Accent walls are covered with oversized art superimposing black and white portraits with vintage botanical illustrations. Ault describes June as “very 1920s mixed with French Art Deco feel with cheeky rose and flower print booths.”
Earlier this year, when Chandrasekaran decided to close the Beaverton location of the Sudra and switch gears with a new collaborator, the team at Lightning Bar Collective felt like an obvious choice with a proven track-record. “I just trusted them to take the space and do something cool with it,” he says. The Indian-American chef first connected with the LBC bar vets when they opened Alberta Street staple Bye and Bye, which quickly became his neighborhood bar. At that time, he had just opened Sonny Bowl, the food cart predecessor to Rabbits Cafe.
In the past couple years, many successful Portland bars and restaurants, like Top Burmese and Loyal Legion, have expanded westward to Beaverton and Hillsboro. “What’s happening in Downtown Beaverton is something Beaverton wanted for a while,” Chandrasekaran says. “More restaurants that are local, not just big chains.”
However, vegan restaurants and food carts are still not as common in that area — with the exception of the Sudra’s stint in Beaverton, Mirisata’s now-closed Hillsboro food cart, and a couple vegan carts at BG Food Cartel. Unsurprisingly, June’s opening on September 2 has been well received by the Beaverton community. “People are stoked to have a place for all vegan food,” says Ault. “It feels like we’re providing something the community really wants.”
June is open seven days a week at 4589 SW Watson Avenue in Downtown Beaverton.