Confirmed: Old Wives’ Tales Closing May 4th

NewspaperConfirmed: signs about the closure are now posted at the restaurant. The building will be razed for apartments.

According to a tip, long-time SE Portland restaurant, Old Wives’ Tales is closing on May 4th. The restaurant which opened in 1980, was one of the front-runners in the local vegetarian movement, featuring low-salt, healthy options, a long salad bar and a variety of soups – the Hungarian soup was well-known in our area. In later years, they expanded into a 90% gluten-free menu.

Because the restaurant is closed on Wednesdays, I’ve been unable to confirm the rumor.

It is always sad to see a Portland institution shut the doors; I wish their staff the best.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. says

    Food Dude! Holly, the owner is a savvy businesswoman and a lawyer, as I recall. I’ll bet she sold the bldg. for development, since there is that big complex across the street on the corner.
    I would unlikely vote that another restaurant will go in there, but i may be wrong. Sorry to see it go. She was a pioneer for many aspects of the biz.

  2. Lindsay says

    I’m always sad to see small business close down, but in this case I’m not sad at all. I wanted this place to be great, and they just weren’t….ever. Peeling the skin off a big pot of creamy soup is never a good experience. Hopefully the space is reinvented and brings another great place to the East Side!

  3. says

    Confirmed. A group with which I’ve been connected had been holding a regular Wednesday lunch meeting at OWT for some time now, and the group’s coordinator posted on our mailing list today that OWT is gone for good and we need to find a new space.

  4. mczlaw says

    Classic example of a place that hung on forever (til now) despite serving horrid food. I shiver when I think of some of the things I tried there during near-weekly visits a very long time ago.


  5. JimG says

    I only ever went their for breakfast, and they had one of the best whole-grain pancakes in town. Make that two of them, a whole wheat poppy seed and a oat-cornmeal buttermilk. I only know of a few places in town that make pancakes with whole grains (Bijou, Hawthorne St. Cafe). Does anyone know of another one?

  6. says

    Holly blazed new trails . . . evolving with the times . . . always great food! She began with a strong feminist environment . . . providing a child friendly place to dine. The menu offered a great variety of healthy entrees, soups & desserts. I always looked forward to meeting friends for a good meal and conversation at OWT. After I moved away from Portland I found comfort and familiarity in returning to OWT when I was in town. Restaurants come and go . . . it’s a difficult business . . . I admire Holly for 34 successful years. I wish her the best!

  7. Kristan Aspen says

    Holly Hart and Old Wives’ Tales could always be counted on to donate food to organizations serving women and children as well as LGBT folks. My partner and I, as Musica Femina, played classical music for Sunday brunch there for many years in the ’80s. I loved the sugar-free, naturally sweetened desserts. A group of us just went there after a play for my 66th birthday, and I took my gluten-free cousins there last year. They raved about it! Portland has lost an institution that connected us to our past. OWT was a place you could take a large group, or hold a meeting in a side banquet room. Where else can we do that? It will be missed, but I wish Holly a welll-deserved change of pace and opportunity to relax in retirement.

  8. Katharine says

    Mon Dieu! Mon Goddess! A great lady, a great restaurant, a great institution. Where else in the 80’s could u dine with toddlers I’m tow, eat vegie food, stay til the cows came home, listen to music, and feel comfy no matter what your race, sexual orientation, or general weirdness. And always she donated to great causes, the latest: strawberries galore to A Class Act. There’s so much more to a restaurant than food, and OWT had it all! goodbye Old Girl!

  9. Alice H. says

    Hello fellow Portlanders!

    I just now received the news that Old Wives Tale has closed and my family and I are saddened to lose such a friendly, inviting & affordable restaurant that added such a down-to-earth vibe to Portland. I loved the BLT + avocado sandwiches, the fruit-box labels, and the hanging quilt art. My husband loved the variety of choices and taste combinations on the menu.

    I feel fortunate to have known the experience of being a customer. Now when I drive by, I will regret the increased density all those condos will bring with no setback from the sidewalk or available parking. Old Wives Tale will always be a good and fun memory; like the 1970s.

    I wish Holly well and offer my thanks for her hard work, long hours, welcoming staff and restaurant. I add my voice to Katherine’s good will and accolade, “There’s so much more to a restaurant than food, and OWT had it all! goodbye Old Girl!”

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