From the PR, with a few comments at the bottom –
There are some changes a-foot, starting with the closing of the Mississippi store. Though this location debuted in 2009 when the economy was in a full nose-dive, it steadily found its footing and gained new customers.
Our founder and owner, Peter de Garmo, and second-generation co-owner, Kevin de Garmo, have decided to focus their energies on the flagship Hawthorne location, its offshoot eating establishment, Evoe, and the Westside location within City Market NW. Bucking the trend to expand, expand, expand – the de Garmo’s want to continue to hone the intimate food shopping experience that Pastaworks began in 1983.
The Mississippi store will be closing as of today, Tuesday January 15th. Any gift certificates that were issued from the Mississippi location can be used at the Hawthorne store (including Evoe) and Pastaworks at City Market (for Pastaworks products only).
We want to thank all of our Mississippi customers. It was a pleasure serving you and we hope to see you soon at our other locations.
This closing is interesting because of what it hints at about the much heralded Mississippi avenue. After a huge boom in development over the past five years or so, is the neighborhood running out of steam? With so many homes in the area, why didn’t the store thrive? Was it too upscale? Expensive? Perhaps the New Seasons store opening nearby? It is something to think about, and makes me wonder about the viability of the area. Personally, I stopped going to the neighborhood about the time that huge apartment building went in, as I thought it ruined the feel of the street.
i agree Dude – I think it is nearly impossible for these small scale, high end shops to survive. I love them but I don’t really shop at them. A reason being that they can be very expensive. I am curious about how much business they actually do – the one connected to the Woodsmen Tavern on Division is probably very pretty but is there enough real business there to support it? I doubt it.
I think Evoe really breathed new life into Pastaworks on Hawthorne and it provides an actual paying customer for all those perishable ingredients. Everyone wants a little shop in their community but they don’t spend enough money at them to sustain them. Overall it is not a viable business model.
Not sure about your thoughts on N. Miss. generally (although that Apt building is a F-ing disaster; and other new retail architecture is shockingly bad and has the faux feel you expect in a modern suburb), but this Pastaworks store was a misfit from the beginning. I’m on the street all the time (I work nearby and eat lunch on N. Miss regularly and dinner w/ family often), and it was never busy and there’s very little foot traffic in that spot.
Contrast The Meadow, which has some similar upscale attributes as Pastaworks, but many fewer costly perishables with short shelf-life, is tiny so it needs much lower revenue to get by, and is much better located for impulse foot traffic.
Ha, we posted at the same time, and I, too, thought to contrast The Meadow. Right on.
Not surprised about the Mississippi store closing. When I lived in North Portland, it never felt like the store was busy, and a lot of times I’d be the only customer.
Now I live between the Hawthorne Pastaworks and Woodsman Market. Both seem to have a lot of customers. At the Woodman they even seem to know all their regular customers by name (who seem to be buying $1 per farm fresh organic eggs and $12 jars of pickles).
I don’t think that the neighborhood is high end enough…yet…to support that kind of store there. Sad thing is, I think it will, in time.
So why can a store like The Meadow make it there? Well, it is tiny, so lower rent. Also, people travel from all over the city and visitors from out of town flock to The Meadow. They sell things that you can’t necessarily find in New Seasons (and even if you can buy fancy salt there, the selection is not comparable, ditto bitters, ditto chocolate), and the owner is a published author and has a store in NYC…they even do all kinds of events at the store. They have figured out how to sustain themselves in that neighborhood.
There aren’t that many items at Pastaworks that you can’t find at New Seasons. But still, even though the neighborhood is gentrifying, it just isn’t there yet. Many of those houses are rentals with several younger folks living in them and many of the houses are in need of renovation – and folks who want to pay $300/mo to share a house with 5 people, and folks who have to replace all their windows and plumbing aren’t folks likely to shop at Pastaworks on a regular basis…they can’t afford to. Heck, I don’t own a house, am employed full time, and I can’t afford it either! ;o)
What is succeeding there besides The Meadow? Inexpensive casual food (ice cream, burgers, southern food, pizza, food carts), and the Rebuilding Center.
I’ve lived around the corner from this store for the past decade. I guess I actually lived around the corner from this store before it was there. Regardless, it was great to walk a couple of blocks if you forgot milk or an occasional carrot, but the store was far too expensive to do any regular shopping in.
As far as the neighborhood, the new buildings and architecture are horribly ugly and out of character with the rest of the neighborhood, but I don’t the demise of this store has anything to do with the neighborhood as it does about the cost of the store and its products relative to the people who actually live in the neighborhood. I would say some of my neighbors have lived on the block for 30+ years and would never set foot in pastaworks. Yes, the neighborhood is gentrifying, but not at a rate that can support such a specialty store.
Food Dude says
I’m just saying that, for me, the neighborhood has lost a lot of the feel that used to draw me to it.
Susan Frenz says
I’ve walked to N Mississippi (ok, a long walk) from my house in Alameda. I would not agree that the neighborhood can’t sustain a shop like Pastaworks. I’ve dropped in from time to time (if I happened to be at that end of Mississippi) but to be honest, there wasn’t that much to draw me there. I much prefer the Hawthorne Store. If you don’t think N Mississippi is thriving, try parking down there on a summer weekend. What’s succeeding there? Lovely’s Fifty Fifty and Por Que No – to name a couple of my favorites.
Bad tacos is certainly a proven path to success on Mississippi.
Food Dude says
cough. They sure are popular!
One of my wishes/goals/hopes for development in my neighborhood is that we never see a Por Que No.
McDonald’s is popular too.
Bad fit for the street, just a bit too upscale, and yeah, I’m sure the New Seasons was a factor as well. I’m actually kind of surprised that the one on Hawthorne is still making a go of it, with as much overlap, product-wise, as there is with the New Seasons down the block, and even the recently fancied up Freddy’s (to a degree anyway). I’m guessing that store is sustained by a loyal customer base as much as anything. But no, I don’t think Mississippi has run out of steam. Bad architecture notwithstanding, it’s still one of my favorite areas to kill time. Btw, speaking of little specialty markets, anybody remember Irvington Market on Weidler and 14th? I used to pop in there from time to time (and the Torrefazione as well) when I first moved to town and lived in that hood. Always liked the place, still miss it…
Food Dude says
I remember Irvington Market – was sad when it closed! Back in the day I used to by most of my wine there.
it’s sad, they are into sustainable everything except employees. Terrible management. I worked at SE and loved the people I worked with and the products they carry, but hated everything else about it. No surprise to me at all. They are not the only specialty game store in town anymore, and they need to step up.
Its the confluence of a number of *business* factors that others have touched on: insufficient volume, high rent, inventory considerations, poor service, increased competition, etc. Period. Let’s not draw conclusions on the future viability of this neighborhood based on one person’s unsuccessful business attempt. Its just a matter of time until someone else comes along with the winning formula for that location. and when this happens, you all can chime in about hgw “up-and-coming” the mississippi neighborhood is (again)… :)
I live nearby and am sad to see the Pastaworks go. It was the go-to place for a quick loaf of bread or a good sandwich.
It always struck me as odd that they never did much with the space, it was always felt half empty. I can’t count how many times I wished they had an EVOE like lunch counter/cafe. Maybe a little more downscale for the neighborhood, but a comfortable cafe would be great. Instead they just had barstools in the middle of a store.
You hit the nail on the head, it was definitely too sparse. What’s nice about the SE location is that it feels pleasantly claustrophobic, which is ideal for that sort of market… It has a kind of shabby-upscale patina, almost sort of an old country feel to it.
I’m missing it. I think it was useful, but the truth is I mostly bought Little T bread there, which is cheaper and vastly superior to New Season’s. If Little T, or another good bakery moves in, I’ll consider it quits. That is something missing in the neighborhood – but stuffed lemurs we got, salts of the world we got, foraging overalls yes we got em.
I could afford to go there but frankly chose not to because it was over-priced and the staff just did not understand customer service. You could stand in line and the employees would just be chatting away as if the customer wasn’t there.