Month: June 2020

New Local Restaurant Adapting

Sebastiano’s Deli has decided not to have indoor seating during any phase of Oregon’s reopening. Instead, owners Elise and Daniel Gold are interested in a new approach to serving their hungry customers.

Sebastiano’s launch this month exceeded their expectations. They served over 200 customers in the first ten days. Since opening with pickup service, a clear customer pattern has emerged. Two customer types are prevalent, the lunchtime rush and people buy provisions to take home. As Multnomah County reopened with phased restrictions, inside dining was never going to be an option for Sebastiano’s. “Our space is just too small,” said Daniel Gold.

Gold’s observations about Sebastiano’s customers, and the limits of the space, called for a creative rework of how the restaurant will serve customers. Elise and Daniel Gold realized they would need to operate differently based on the time of day. Starting July 8th, Sebastiano will modify their schedule. From 11 AM to 3 PM, Wednesday through Saturday, they will offer pickup service as they have for the last month. This schedule will fully cover the lunchtime crowd. For those customers, they intend to enhance the lunch menu with “weekly sandwich and salad specials to give people fresh options each week beyond Muffuletta’s. ” said Gold.

After 3 PM, Sebastiano’s will transitions from pickup orders at the shop to home delivery. For $5, they will deliver orders over $50 to local addresses. The delivery area will expand out beyond Montavilla, into the adjacent neighborhoods. The Golds wanted to avoid the big names in third-party delivery services. “We are trying to avoid those [companies]. It’s really a tax everyone else.” Said Daniel Gold. He explained that delivery services charge a substantial percentage of the order’s total. To cover the lost margin paid to third party delivery services, they would have to increase menu prices for all customers. Working with companies like that did not fit what the Golds wanted for Sebastiano’s. Instead, the Golds will do the delivery themselves, and with help from family. Daniel’s cousin, Rachel, will be helping deliver orders over the summer.

Beyond basic delivery options, The Golds will launch an outdoor garden party package. That service is called Sebastiano’s Pop Up. It will deliver all the food and drinks needed for an outdoor party at a customer’s house. The customer needs to have the tables set up, and they will drop off an arrange the food in a yard or driveway.

Sebastiano’s has received OLCC and Healthy Business permits to offer seven tables for outdoor seating. They may consider offering table service on the sidewalk, like many others in Old Town Montavilla have. However, the outdoor dining space is competitive in Montavilla, and the Golds are not sure they want to be just another location trying to keep people distanced. “I really appreciate anyone who feels comfortable eating out right now and any restaurant operator who is comfortable and feels they can do it in a safe way.” Said Gold. However, Daniel Gold feels there are other types of people looking for a dining experience. “For that subset of people who still want to eat good food and still want novel experiences but don’t feel safe going out right now, we’re trying to rise to the occasion and provide them something enjoyable.”

Behind Sebastiano’s is a semi-private courtyard. There, the Golds have constructed a tent and outdoor seating geared towards private events. The Private Happy Hour can be booked for groups to “hang out with their friends in a safe, private, outdoor setting.” said Gold. With only a $200 Food and Drink minimum purchase, the whole menu will be available to the group. Only one group can book the space at a time, between 3 PM to 6 PM. Events can be kid-friendly, and pets are allowed.

The Golds hope this will be a safe and comfortable way for friends, large families, or coworkers to get together. Daniel Gold sees this as an “adapt or die” moment for restaurants. Even with his early success, he knows that they still have to earn each customer’s continued patronage. “We don’t take a single one for granted,” said Gold, talking about Sebastiano’s customers.

Sebastiano’s opening looks different than other businesses reopening efforts. They believe they have found a model that will work for customers and keep everyone safe, regardless of the changes from COVID-19. Some people have mentioned to the Golds that they are waiting for Sebastiano’s full opening before trying them out. The Golds want everyone to know that this is the full Sebastiano’s. They are entirely open and waiting to earn loyal customers.

Sebastiano’s is located at 411 SE 81st Ave.


Images in this article are provided courtesy of Sebastiano’s and Daniel Gold.

Pottery Fun Closing on Stark

Pottery Fun is closing its store in Old Town Montavilla. For Rent signs are now posting in the window of the longtime staple of Stark street. Located at 7821 SE Stark Street, Pottery Fun offered craft activities for individuals and groups.

Pottery Fun temporarily closed March 16th, in response to COVID-19 containment efforts. The website and voicemail for Pottery Fun have not yet been updated to reflect any change in business location or closure of this location. They have been at this spot on Stark street since October of 2010.

During their years in business, Pottery Fun has been featured in both the Portland Tribune and SE Examiner. They will certainly be missed as a family-friendly entertainment option in the neighborhood.


Disclosure: The author’s daughter once worked at Pottery Fun, many years previous.

Bus Stop Destroyed in Crash

The TriMet bus stop on the northeast corner of Burnside and 82nd Ave was destroyed in a crash today. The bus stop shelter and crosswalk signal pole are knocked off their mounts. This bus stop serves the 20 bus line. Bus service has not been disrupted at this stop, although glass and other debris is spread around the area.

Cars To Go operates the automotive sales lot on the corner behind the bus shelter. A car being displayed at Cars To Go shows signs of damage.

UPDATE – We posted this story on reddit, looking for eye-witnesses to the crash. Two people reported seeing a SUV involved in the accident. One poster reported the time of crash as 4:30 PM on Thursday, June 25th. That same person posted images of the crash with the SUV involved in the collision. Accounts of the incident, indicate the driver was not seriously injured.

Image of bus shelter before crash. Photo by Weston Ruter

Infill Home Coming to NE 75th

A traditional infill home is coming to a new split lot on NE 75th Ave. The new house is located between E Burnside and NE Glisan, at 342 NE 75th Ave.

The new single-family residence is being built on a new lot, split from 352 NE 75th Ave. That existing house is currently for sale and includes an easement for the driveway. The driveway runs along the south side of the building and ends in a parking pad in the back of the house. Part of the driveway is on 342 NE 75th Ave’s property.

The new house will be 20 feet wide at the front, with the majority of the first floor being taken up by a sing car garage. The front door leads to a long hallway. To the left of the hallway are the stairs up to the second story and a coat closest. Just pass the hallway there is an open kitchen to the right and a half bathroom to the left. At the back of the first floor are a great room and dining room combination. The dining room pushes out to the south with two large windows. This feature adds another foot to the width. The southeast corner of the first floor is notched, to provide a four and a half foot by seven and a half foot covered patio. The great room features a direct vent fireplace, on the north wall.

At the top landing of the second floor stairs, is a doublewide laundry closet. The front of the second floor has the master bedroom with a walk-in closet and a three quarters master bathroom. Centered on the south side of the second floor is the full bathroom, to be shared by two standard bedrooms. Those bedrooms evenly split the back half of the second floor.

The primary roof has its ridge line span the short width of the building. A smaller front-facing gable roof covers the master bedroom and garage, which both project five feet forward from the house. This roof orientation is becoming more common with skinny houses. Compared to the ridge line running the length of the building and all gable ends facing the street.

Rotating the roof peek 90 degrees, creates a taller center point in the attic. That added space is being used to house the water heater and furnace. Most often those units would be located in the garage. There is a tankless water heater wall mounted in the garage. It is most likely dedicated to first floor use.

This new house should fit comfortably between its neighbors. It is not too skinny, nor is it a radical design that will look out of place. The one missed opportunity comes from the driveway easement. If only that could have been shared between both houses. That would have facilitated the garage placement in the back of the house. Design where the front of the house can be more active, allows the house to contribute to the neighborhood character. An important feature particularly as density increases.

342 NE 75th Ave Before Construction.

76th and Division Crossing Upgrades

The southwest corner of Montavilla is receiving an intersection upgrade. New curb ramps and traffic light poles, are being constructed at the corner of SE 76th Ave and SE Division Street.

From 76th looking across Division

The new traffic lights will open up the intersection with Mast Arm mounted lights. They can sit further back from the curb compared to the older Box Span traffic lights, that are currently used at this intersection. This project also changes the signal configuration. It is changing from a three way intersection to a four way intersection. SE 76th Ave does not cross Division Street directly. Instead, SE 76th aligns with a private driveway for new housing on the south side of Division. Changes to traffic control at this intersection will allow for those residents to enter the intersection in a controlled manner.

West, looking across 76th

Parking Plazas on Stark

As Montavilla restaurants and bars continue to reopen, Parking Plazas are now appearing on SE Stark Street. Businesses are converting parking spaces to extensions of their regular indoor seating.

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) offers Healthy Businesses permits, enabling the closure of curbside parking and streets. These spaces allow business to distance customers from one-another, without sacrificing too much seating. Plazas like these are part of the PBOT Safe Streets Initiative and the hope is it will be a safer way to visit local businesses.

Vino Veritas, at 7835 SE Stark Street, was the first along Stark Street to open their Parking Plaza. Vino Veritas is a wine bar with a select offering of food items. Between 4PM and 9:30PM, the Parking Plaza is decorated with colorful umbrellas. They provide shade over a handful of tables, that are placed within the wine barrel parameter.

Redwood restaurant will open their Parking Plaza Wednesday, June 24th. This is the first day since the COVID-19 closure, that Redwood has opened for dine in and take out. Redwoods’ Parking Plaza is the most elaborate in Montavilla to date. They have constructed a double sided Shadow Box fence around the area, where others have just used rope or chain. Redwood is located at 7915 SE Stark Street.

Each business is using Parking Plaza in a method that matched their business. Threshold Brewing & Blending has their own take on a Parking Plazas, just around the corner from these two. While the weather is nice, these should be a good aid to deal with the challenges of reopening. Patrons can already be spotted making use of these outdoor venues, to the relief of many business owners.

Sunlight Solar Closing Location

Sunlight Solar’s office and warehouse location, on East Burnside street, is closing. The building owners are now advertising that the space, at 7935 E Burnside Street, is available to lease. Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. continue to operate other locations in Oregon and elsewhere.

The commercial building is a located on the corner of E Burnside and NE 80th Ave. It is fronted on Burnside Street with a two car parking lot accessible from NE 80th. David Smith has owned this building since 2016. Smith bought it from his friend, who operated Watson Plumbing Company at this location.

The building was first constructed in 1990 and was more recently updated in 2016, just before Sunlight Solar Energy occupied the space. The building offers 3,000 sq. ft. of heated Warehouse space. It has two bathrooms and two offices. The office space is near 300 sq. ft. in size.

David Smith has already received interest in the space, however, he is looking for the right type of tenant. He describes the space as being ideal for a contractor or trades company, due to its two commercial rollup doors. Those doors make it easy to drive work vehicles inside, for restock and security. However, Smith is open to new uses for the building. It would be great to bring in an active business that is “helpful to the community and contributes to the area.” Said Smith in a phone interview.

This building is located at a nexus of car and bike travel. As 80th Ave continues to grow into a future Greenway, both bike and pedestrian travel is increasing along its roads and sidewalk. Burnside continues to be a well traveled path for bus and car transit. Sitting at such an intersection, would make in an ideal location for a Ghost Kitchen. That business being reliant on both bike and car couriers. When asked about posible uses for the space, Smith seemed encouraged by ideas like a Ghost Kitchen or other community serving businesses. “Perhaps the era of construction business is over for the building,” said Smith.

Smith has a long history of restoring or developing Portland buildings and has lived in the area most of his life. This is his only Montavilla property but his admiration for the neighborhood, keeps him engaged in future opportunities. He is excited to see what future business will take residence in his building, and is interested in how that business will support the neighborhood.

Business owners looking to lease this location are encouraged to call 503-695-5858, and speak to David Smith. As E burnside and 80th Ave become more active with businesses, this corner should play a significant role in the areas growth.

Threshold Creates a Parking Plaza

Threshold Brewing & Blending is one of the first Montavilla businesses to setup a PBOT sanctioned Parking Plaza. This outdoor seating option takes over designated street parking spaces. The additional space allows businesses to serve customers outside and reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Located at 403 SE 79th Ave, Threshold Brewing & Blending offers beer on tap and a small selection of food items. Their Parking Plaza extends the width of the building. Four additional tables now join the existing two outdoor tables.

In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) created the Safe Streets Initiative. Part of this initiative is the Healthy Businesses permit, which allows for Parking Plazas like this one. Parking Plazas are the smallest space that can be reserved for seating. It is possible to take over a lane of traffic and the curb side parking. PBOT will also allow side streets and main street closures. However, none of the larger Plazas configurations have been proposed for Montavilla.

PBOT hopes that additional outdoor seating will lessen the business impact of the increased table spacing, required in Phase 1 reopening. Many businesses are only able to seat half the number of guests, compared to before the restrictions. Outdoor seating could also attract customers still fearful of visiting public spaces. The safety of outdoor activities has been touted by some health officials and outdoor dining may be a safer way to visit restaurants and bars. How popular this option will become, is still undetermined.

Lazy Susan’s Curbside Open

Along SE 80th, a large grill cooks sizzling meat. Staff at Lazy Susan have not yet settled on an official opening date, however they have started curbside service for Montavilla locals.

Lazy Susan is located at 7937 SE Stark on the corner of SE 80th Ave and Stark Street. They had intended to open months prior, but delayed due to COVID-19. They are still putting the finishing touches on the interior of the restaurant but that will not stop them from cooking. “We are serving barbecue to the neighborhood curbside, and offering awesome beverages like sangria slushies and piña colada snow cones.” Wrote Kayla Morrell of Lazy Susan PDX.

Lazy Susan has taken curbside service to an extreme, cooking and selling the food from the sidewalk. Orders for food and drinks are placed at the front door on SE Stark Street. Around the corner the food is prepped and grilled. They offer waiting chairs along the front of the building, spaced apart for safety.

Lazy Susan staff have successfully brought a mini version of their restaurant, to the sidewalk. Plates are priced at $15, with your choice of meat. A crescent roll and potato salad are included. They are open 12 to 4 PM.

Montavilla Street Fair 2020 Canceled

This years Montavilla Street Fair has been canceled in response to COVID-19. The annual event was set to occur on July 26th and would have been on SE Stark street, as it has for many years. The event is hosted by the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA). METBA President, Pete Dills, announced the cancelation at the June 16th association meetup.

The decision to cancel this years fair was driven by many factors. Concern for everyones health was the primary reason. Beyond that concern, the States reopening guidelines would also prohibit any event like the street fair. In past years the event has attracted thousands of visitors. Any social distancing plan would be complicated and hard to monitor. “I do not know how we would ‘police’ something like that,” said Dills.

Logistics alone were not the only reason to cancel this years fair. METBA Board member, Carmen Wilson, added that the issues were also financial. The Permits for closing Stark street, from 76th Ave to 82nd Ave, is a large cost to METBA. They would be unlikely to recoup that cost through in donations this year. Instead, METBA wishes to use the funds they have to support local businesses in other ways.

Dills presented a few ideas of how METBA could help local businesses, instead of hosting the street fair. One idea, would try to replicate the business exposer from participating in the fair. The structure of the program would spread out participation over a month, to allow for COVID-19 related restrictions. Currently it’s referred to as “Montavilla Passport.” The Passport would be a mobile-device friendly why to interact with or patronize local businesses. This may be though in person visits or no-contact ways of interacting.

Dills’ other idea, had METBA creating a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Both ideas have the goal to help the residents know “what businesses are open and provide opportunities for the Montavilla community to support their local business district in fun and unique ways.” Wrote Dills in an email to Montavilla News.

METBA is seeking advice and feedback from the community about what can replace the Montavilla Street Fair this year. You are invited to email montavilla.biz@gmail.com with your ideas and thoughts on what METBA should do. Local businesses need extra support this year and now is the best time to start work on how the community can band together.