Portland Food News for 3.26.09

Not much in the way of news this week, but since I’m way behind on everything else, here you go:

Cha Cha Cha will be going in next to Ristretto Roasters and EaT on NE Williams. Not exactly the food force that the developer had envisioned, but in this economy one can’t be too picky.

Beaker & Flask is finally making progress. The windows are in, and an opening is in sight. We’ll have more details on this in the next ten days.

From what I hear, Jack Yoss is a cook’s cook, the kind of guy everyone is comfortable hanging out with to shoot pool or watch a game. He is currently on the first major stop in his travels, Phuket Thailand. Jack has started a blog, and the first posts have been… interesting. I especially appreciate the one on eating various insects. You can follow along on Yoss is Lost. Not for the squeamish.

Departures, the next restaurant at The Nines, has started training dinners, and will open Friday, 3/27. Several of us have been inside, and it’s gorgeous; teak wood everywhere. Is teak sustainable? Anyway, it’s on the fifteenth floor, with have two patios, and a huge bar, which only seats 14 because they want to use large captain’s chairs to give the feeling of being in first class. The food is small plates of Pan-Asian (brace yourself) street food. Hmm… has that been tried in Portland? Let’s hope it is an improvement over the restaurant downstairs, but if not, at least it has a great view.

Jax, on SW 2nd avenue across from where Ibiza closed a few months ago, has also closed. R.I.P.

Gourmet Magazine has a headline that is sure to get your attention: “If you have eaten a tomato this winter, chances are very good that it was picked by a person who lives in virtual slavery”. It is a provocative article about tomato pickers in Florida living as slaves. Another reason to eat locally and seasonally! You can read it here.

Byron Beck dropped me a note that Terell Brandon, the University of Oregon basketball legend will be opening a deli at the corner of Denver and Kilpatrick, in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland.

Over the last few years, there has been more and more talk about drastic calorie restriction being the key to a long life. Some experts claim those who dramatically reduce their calorie intake can live to 130 years and older.

This got me thinking. Obviously, food is an important part of my life. Would I be willing to give up one of my great joys in exchange for a much longer lifespan? After catching a recent show on Oprah (I woke up from a nap and it was on the TV, I swear), which showed the extremes some people are going to, I decided that my answer to the question would be no. To me, it would be a life half lived. What’s the point? How do you feel? I’ve put a poll on the front page.

Finally, via Nancy Rommelmann/via Reason.com, we have an interesting video: Jill Erber – owner of Cheesetique in Alexandria, Virginia – defends free trade by defiantly selling French Roquefort cheese at her cost. She does so to highlight a punitive tariff imposed as the Bush Administration was about to leave office.

The tariff was to take effect on March 23, 2009. The Obama Administration has delayed the tariff by a month and may eliminate it altogether.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. extramsg says

    Good for Jill Erber for standing up to stupidity. It’s nice, I guess, that Obama will make a little effort for something that will truly have little effect. Now if someone could just get him to stand up to the Teamsters and not start a trade war with Mexico:


    Ironically, his actions will probably only increase the problem highlighted by Gourmet in Florida’s tomato fields.

  2. Oneswellfoop says

    I second your comments towards a life without good food being a life half lived.
    I fear I’m destined for a short life. I have the metabolism of a very frightened rabbit and must eat constantly (five meals a day with snacks of handfuls of almonds and berries in between) in order to maintain my low weight. At 6’4″ and having, after some effort, worked my way up to 166 lbs, I fear calorie restriction would have me end in an early death of starvation.

    That doesn’t sound nearly as fun as bacon.

  3. plutoniumpowered says

    Lookup “intermittent fasting,” which is just a fancy way of saying, “go hungry from time to time.” Pretty much all the benefits of caloric restriction without the constant feeling of starving oneself. I fast for about 18 hours, 2-3 times a week, usually skipping breakfast and eating lunch a little late. When I eat, I pig out on my favorite foods and I enjoy myself thoroughly. It’s easy and feels natural. Humans aren’t meant to be steady-state machines!

  4. Guignol says

    In response to the front page article in the Oregonian regarding;

    Portland – The panel OKs the postponement sought by developer Sage to avert a loan default for the luxury hotel.

    This is an outrage to me due to the fact that Ken Geist, Executive VP for Sage Restaurant Group stated that “I could have not picked a worse opening date”. Well Ken, Let me bring this to your attention. The obvious state of the economy is not getting better any time soon. Are you not getting ready to open “The Departure” at the same location, is this loan going to be “taxpayer funded” as well. I am not sure how the economy is in Denver, where you sit in your big chair, but it sucks here. Isnt it obvious that your concept of these high caliber propoerties may not be viable right now, ESPECIALLY as taxpayers expenses? When the nuclear bomb drops, there will be nothing left but cockroaches, an unsettled national debt, and these kind of people that use our money to feed their egos.

    Kiss my butt

  5. CO says

    I cannot hear the term “captain’s chairs” without thinking of the 13 Coins in Seattle. Man, the 70’s were scary. As far as the street food aspect goes, does anyone else see the irony in selling street food at a 15th floor, rooftop restaurant, located in a brand-new multimillion dollar hotel?
    While not as sustainable as Bamboo or cottonwood(who wants to use that for flooring?), Teak is a fast growing and, as of yet, unendagered species. It is also rot/insect resistent, and IMO highly attractive.

  6. zumpie says


    Even more disgusting and outrageous is A) how that same Ken Geist boasted to the press just 5 months ago how fabulously The Nines would do, how the sales team was working overtime and they would never drop rates, ’cause that was for losers. Riiiight.

    And B) how Sage is now opening ANOTHER hotel just up the street. I get that they were probably committed to the project, it’s a mid-scale property blahdy, blah, blah…but I’m sure my tax dollars once again are paying for Sage to give key positions to people from out of state, mistreat local employees in low paying jobs and probably default and go bankrupt in short order, anyway.

    Sage is kinda hospitality answer to AIG…

    • Amoureuse says

      Lets face it…Sage will not even be able to make their bank payments, let alone payments to the PDC. Not at $99 a night for 99 days. The first restaurant lets face it is a BOMB. Departures will be lower food cost items , and they ( Sage ) hope that volume will be their saving grace. But hotel $$$ flow differntly than a normal stand alone restaurant. I actually heard that occupancy has been decent during the $99 rate. But iheard the “model” was based on 75% yearly occupancy at $280 a night ( on the average ) This is why they are having problems making payments. Also the banquet/catering department is WAY OVER PRICED and although this is city wide ( poor banquet sales ) this is not helping the revenue from the F&B depatment flow like a hotel/restaurant should. Sage is not alone, I heard Hilton is reconsidering their stategy in Portland also. What is sad is that the PDC and the city will be hurt by this. In the long run making it tough for future development. Granted no one could have called the economic events currently ( three years ago when all this was being planned ) so the question is, what do you do if you are Sage? You cant quit, you have too many dollars tied up. Tough for all involved, its not a quick solution. The real question is does Sage have the cash to last 2 years as they are?

      • zumpie says

        Amoureuse, great post (as always!)–and have you ever noticed the PDC likes to get behind business models that are invariably based on some rather overly rosy forecasts? By people who don’t entirely know this town and what our market really will support?

        I, too, have heard occupancy has been decent during the promo rate (the same promo rate a mere 2 months before they swore they would never need to stoop to), but we all know the business will go once the rate does. Interesting about the Hilton, but doesn’t really surprise me.

        Anyway, how would I fix this?

        1) I’d dump the separate hotel and restaurant concept (aside from a marketing point, it doesn’t work for Kimpton, it REALLY doesn’t work in Portland for Sage), have sales and catering sell and market the restaurant (no need for a separate restaurant marketing manager), have an F&B Director over all the F&B (instead of just banquets, plus a DOC, plus a banquet manager, how freakin’ stupid is that?), no restaurant GM (he just got canned, anyway) and just a couple of floor managers for the restaurants.

        This alone would save about $200K per year in salaries, maybe more.

        2) I’d take a look at my other managers. This is very possibly the most labor (especially management) heavy property I’ve ever seen. That’s fine if you’re the Grand Wailea, but it isn’t…so time to trim. In the PBJ, Geist said they employ 371 people. The hell???? I get that many, many of those are part timers, but that’s still over 1 person per guestroom. And I don’t even know if that includes the restaurant.

        3) If they can get out of their Luxury Collection flag (and move down a rung in brand), they should. Yes, it’s a nice draw, but the amenities (and labor) it forces them to have make it cost prohibitive. And judging from reviews, etc, it is NOT a four star property and never will be.

        4) More community visibility. The elite tone they initially took is off-putting to Portlanders. They come off as very out of touch. Their sales and marketing department need some high profile chairty involvement stat! And I DON’T mean hospitality, gossip with your industry buddies events, either.

        5) Most importantly: Fire Fred Kleisner. The man’s a pompous, snotty buffoon who couldn’t effectively manage a dog kennel (his history bears this out). While his Daddy might be talented, sonny boy isn’t. Hire a local hotel GM who actually gets the market—which will help reverse the growing animosity towards Sage in this town in general.

        • haha says

          Interesting posts above..thank you guys :)

          I imagine that Sam the Tram’s never ending plans for a big ole hotel attached to the convention center would have you somwhat perplexed

  7. mczlaw says

    It’s great to hear that the Beaker & Flask opening may finally be near. In light of all the delays, however, I suggest re-christening it, “Beaker, Flask & Hourglass.”


  8. Chambolle says

    Two points:

    The fact that Hilton is ‘reconsidering’ things is the reason Paris still has money to do….whatever she does. Arrogance can kill you.

    More importantly, all these notes about the 15th-floor street food restaurant reminds me to go the library and check out more Calvin Trillin.

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