Category: Bar

Rabbit Hole Sweetshop

Last month, Rabbit Hole Market and Sweets quietly opened in Montavilla town at 414 SE 80th Ave. The shop occupies the former Hungry Heart Bakery space, made available after the restaurant relocated to SE Stark Street. Both businesses are the creation of Jax Hart, and the two locations work together to meet the varied appetites of customers throughout the day.

Hart quietly reopened the SE 80th shopfront on April 15th. Although covered in Bridgetown Bites, the opening was unpublicized, allowing staff time to work out the kinks in the shop’s operation and perfect the menu options. The first few weeks primarily focused on mastering the soft-serve ice cream machines that require an expert’s hand to operate. Rabbit Hole is now ready for customers but will continue to add products and features to the shop over the coming months.

Rabbit Hole staff are preparing for an expected busy summer season with more people out in the neighborhood looking for treats. “We’re [open] Thursday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and that’ll probably extend as we get into summer and see what time people are looking for the ice cream and sweets.” Said Hart. The two shops have a short overlap in operating hours but essentially split the day. Hungry Heart operates from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., serving the morning and lunchtime crowd. Rabbit Hole’s hours catch the afternoon and evening dessert seekers. That schedule allows Hart to balance their attention between the two establishments. “I kind of just go where I’m needed,” explained Hart.

The second location is more than a way to expand operations. Hart wants the Rabbit Hole to offer a different customer experience than the busy restaurant on Stark Street. Reopening in the original location is a way to reconnect with the roots of the business. “When we started, the intention was to just be a small neighborhood dessert shop and be a little bit more slower paced and low key. So our hope for this space was to have a little bit more time to engage with people,” said Hart. “It’s really been nice to welcome people into this space again.”

Hart moved the customer-pleasing Hungry Heart cupcakes and the macarons to the Rabbit Hole location. Over time, they expect to expand the confectionary options. However, Hart knew that the cold treats needed to be part of the new shop from day one. “We’re also doing soft serve ice cream because we had previously done Heartbreaker [ice cream shop], and people loved having ice cream in the neighborhood.”

Rabbit Hole features two soft serve machines, one of which is a dedicated non-dairy use. “So currently that machine has Oatly vegan vanilla and dole whip, which is a pineapple soft-serve,” explained Hart. As they settle in, Rabbit Hole staff will rotate flavors and begin to offer dipped cones with various toppings and sundaes.

Beyond Rabbit Hole’s display cases, staff have stocked shelves with a collection of packaged food items, books, and plants. Hart is working with suppliers from the area to provide a variety of market items to compliment the sweet shop. Hart explains that many people stopping in are picking up supplies for a celebration. “When people come in for cupcakes, it’s for a party, it’s for a gift, or it’s for a friend who just graduated.” The plants and other gift-able items make the shop a one-stop location for those looking to arrive at a party prepared. Soon the store will stock cards from local letterpress companies to complete the present giving collection that Rabbit Hole provides.

Hart expects to enhance the shop’s offerings beyond its products and menu. The indoor seating area will soon support a flexible teaching space for vendors who want to offer cooking classes. “We’ll be able to do these small, intimate neighborhood cooking classes and kids cooking classes.” Hart also explained the shop would soon gain outdoor seating. “We have an application in for a Healthy Business permit, which would be one of those seating areas that take up a parking spot, so we’re going to wait and see if we can either get a 20 foot or a 40 foot [space].”

Recently, staff have focused on setting the right environment for the shop and opening the doors to customers. After they complete the physical storefront, Hart said they will next work to open the website to the public. “We’ll have the menus on the website, and we’ll have an ordering page. [People can] order cupcakes online, and we’ll have an online store for all of the Market items.”

Christening the new location Rabbit Hole Market and Sweets is part of a larger project that began years ago but put on hold by the pandemic. Jax Hart revealed that the Stark street location would eventually change names in alignment with the original intention for the space. “We’re working on rebranding Hungry Heart to White Rabbit,” said Hart. However, they don’t expect to make that change soon, as the cost is not insignificant. Regardless of the timing, the relationship between the two shops will be unmistakable when they complete the rebranding process.

The public is encouraged to pop in and see what sweets or plants Rabbit Hole offers. Look for new items and events later this year and know that a cool sweet treat is just down the street on the coming warm days of summer.


PBOT Extends On-Street Seating and Public Plazas

At a press conference Monday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced plans to extend two pandemic relief programs and work to make them permanent. PBOT Director Chris Warner joined Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to highlight the successes of the Healthy Businesses permits and Portland Public Street Plazas program. The free Healthy Businesses permits will extend through August 31st and then require businesses to pay a fee for parking space seating.

At this week’s event, Neil Mattson spoke about Montavilla’s successful Street Plaza and how both programs supported the neighborhood during difficult times. As president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association, Mattson led the development of the community plaza on SE 79th Avenue. PBOT staff recognized this public gathering space as one of the program’s success stories and welcomed its return this season. Mattson confirmed the plaza’s restorative influence on the area. “It really showed that when we take back the street and we use it as a place for coming together, that it does build community.”

Neil Mattson, president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association

Mattson further explained the essential service provided to the community through PBOT’s free permits for parking lane dining areas. “In Montavilla, we have 24 businesses currently offering outdoor seating. If we hadn’t had the ability to have the Healthy Businesses permits, those businesses, I’m pretty confident [they] would all be gone today.” The success of these fresh-air extensions of restaurants and bars is evident through how they transformed over time. What began as roped-off parking spaces soon grew into three-sided sheds dotting curbs throughout the neighborhood.

When PBOT first rolled out the program, they envisioned umbrellas and tents, not wood structures with corrugated roofs. The sturdy construction that indicates success could conflict with the Healthy Businesses program’s transition into a permanent City amenity. Starting September 1st, all permit holders will need to renew their permits for the program. The renewal process will include a compliance review that will likely require modifications to what businesses have constructed over the last two years.

Dylan Rivera, PBOT’s Public Information Officer, explained how businesses might need to adjust as the Healthy Businesses program matures. “There are people out there, businesses who put tables in the street without even coming to us for a permit, even though the Permit was free,” said Rivera. For those establishments, compliance will start with a permit application and reworking their space within the guidelines.

Other business owners have permits but obstructed the public right-of-way or constructed outdoor seating beyond what is allowed. PBOT has concerns that pedestrians and wheelchairs can not navigate the sidewalk through some seating configurations. Corrections will mostly center on maintaining the required six feet of sidewalk clearance. The more challenging conflicts will arise from overbuilt outdoor seating. “There are people out of compliance right now, and we need to have a conversation with them,” said Rivera.

PBOT will have conversations with permit holders throughout the spring and continue into the summer. The goal is to contain outdoor seating in temporary movable structures. “This summer, we’re hoping to start talking about what are some sensible guidelines to help with vision clearance, especially close to crosswalks and intersections, and what does temporary look like?” Said Rivera. “There’ll be lots of conversations and then warnings.”  

PBOT’s primary concern is for the preservation of safety and to maintain access to public spaces. Much of Portland’s infrastructure runs above the sidewalk or below the street, and utility workers need access along the road within a few days’ notice. Healthy Businesses seating areas must be able to move out of the way within that timeframe. PBOT is taking a soft approach to this transition. As the year moves closer to September, PBOT staff will speak to Healthy Businesses permit holders and provide guidance for the new rules. Dylan Rivera assures business owners that they are not pursuing imidate changes.

Although PBOT intends to make both programs permanent, the continuation of Healthy Businesses permits and the Street Plazas Program are contingent on funding from the Portland City Council. The long-term success of these community-strengthening initiatives is dependent on their inclusion in the City’s 2022-23 budget. Commissioner Hardesty encouraged Portlanders to voice their support for these PBOT programs to her fellow City Council members. Over the next six months, look for the return of Street Plazas and subtle changes to outdoor seating as businesses prepare for compliance requirements.


Disclosure – The author of this article serves on the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association Board.

Thai street food pop-up Wednesday

Next Wednesday, Threshold Brewing & Blending will host a special one-night Thai street food pop-up event. The renowned traveling chef, Dream Kasestatad, will serve his creations from the taproom at 403 SE 79th Avenue on February 2nd from 4 PM until supplies run out. Kasestatad’s Pranom Pop-Up then moves over to Ruse Brewing on February 3rd and 4th before continuing its nationwide journey.

Kasestatad is an actor and director who recently created an autobiographically inspired pilot episode of The Noodle Man, available on Amazon Prime Video. As depicted in the screen version of his life, Kasestatad used his cooking pedigree to bridge the financial gap between acting work. What began as a side-hustle soon became recognized as the skillful work of a culinary artist. His traveling pop-up business continues four generations of family tradition sharing their Thai food with the community.

Meat and vegan option are available at Pranom Pop-Up. Threshold will also offer plenty of beverage options to pair with the meal. This special event will likely sell out early, so mark your calendars and swing by early.


Images courtesy Pranom Pop-Up

Moto PDX Cafe Opens on Stark

This week, Moto PDX Cafe opened at 8826 SE Stark Street after months of preparation. The cafe celebrities the culture, art, and spectacle of performance motorcycle racing. Inside the bright white storefront, owner Brendan Jones creates a living room atmosphere with a wide variety of seating options conducive to intimate conversations or communal discussions around the cafe’s theme.

At one end of Moto PDX, couches surround a TV playing classic motorcycle races. Performance bikes and attire separate seating and add color to the white interior. Artwork placed on display throughout the cafe highlight artists who use motorcycle racing as their muse. Lining the back wall, coolers featuring beers, wines, and other chilled beverages glow with LED light.

Jones is building out the full menu during the winter but currently offers many variations on the panini sandwich. Staff prepare espresso and other coffee drinks at an art-wrapped counter upfront. Employees at the cafe are motorcycle riders and enthusiasts, making this a destination for riders and race fans to talk about their passion.

This winter, Jones will organically shape the cafe to meet his customer’s expectations. Previously he created The Big Legrowlski in downtown Portland. What started as a growler shop eventually grew into a live music venue, proving to Jones that adapting to customer needs is what makes enduring communal spaces. Using what he learned from The Big Legrowlski, Jones will take time with the early days of Moto PDX and not over program the cafe. Because of that approach, customers should stop in and see what they like and make requests.

With time, Moto PDX Cafe will grow around its customers into a gathering space for the community. They are open 7 AM to 7 PM Monday through Thursday, with extended operating hours of 7 AM to 10 PM on Friday and Saturday. There is parking in a private lot in front of the cafe where it is safe to leave your motorcycle… or car if you have to drive that day.

Glisan’s New Approach to Outdoor Seating

This month, Blank Slate Bar created unique outdoor seating on NE Glisan. Unlike other covered dining spaces constructed in curbside parking spaces, this open-walled shelter spans the entire width of the sidewalk, covering the whole pedestrian space. Its design is in response to concerns around customer seating adjacent to heavy traffic.

Over the last 18 months, bars and restaurants have relied on outdoor seating to serve customers safely during the pandemic. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) expanded those spaces through special free permits, accommodating a variety of seating configurations for the service industry. Most businesses in Montavilla chose to create Parking Plazas to serve guests. That style of outdoor seating converts space previously used for curbside parking into expanded sidewalk seating while maintaining adequate space for pedestrians. As the need for outdoor seating persisted, more substantial wood structures replaced temporary configurations. Most gained covered roofs and sidewalls.

This image and cover image by Weston Ruter

Regardless of the structure’s build quality, Parking Plazas have customers seated next to moving traffic with only a thin wood divider protecting people from passing vehicles. On slower streets, that is less of an issue. However, seating placed on SE Stark Street can feel dangerously close to fast-moving trucks and cars.

Compared to Stark Street, NE Glisan traffic is more hazardous. That reality caused Kierre Van De Veere, the Blank Slate Bark’s owner, to consider design alternatives for their outdoor seating. “We chose not to do parking space seating due to the busy nature of Glisan. So we worked with PBOT and our design team to come up with this option.” In this configuration, customers on Glisan have a parking lane buffer between vehicles and the tables.

Blank Slate Bar’s covered seating area features a transparent corrugated shed roof that extends from the front of the building to the curb and runs the entire width of the bar’s shopfront. The arrangement allows for two-person seating against the windows and larger group seating close to the curb. Pedestrians can walk through the center area in an arcade-style passageway between the tables. 

In addition to its unique placement, crews constructed the shelter out of large timbers. The result is a structure that seems permanent and intentional. People seem to appreciate the design used at Blank Slate Bar, according to Van De Veere. “We have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers and neighbors, who are always supporting us in any way they can.”

Regardless of the design, Van De Veere appreciates the impact of open-air seating on places like hers. “These outdoor spaces are a lifeline to small businesses.” The new seating is available just in time for winter and built to last for many years to come. Blank Slate Bar is located at 7201 NE Glisan Street Suite C and is open Tuesday through Saturday.

The Yard at Montavilla Opening Weekend

Yesterday, The Yard at Montavilla opened to customers for the first time. The new food cart pod has space for sixteen vendors, although only a handful are currently serving customers during the first few days. Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the food vendor collective sits on a corner lot across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary School.

La Taquiza Vegana – All Vegan Mexican Street Food

The early days of operation are encouraging for the cart operators. A small but steady flow of customers have ventured in to see what carts are open. July 4th is set as the official first day, although not all food carts are starting at the same time. Today La Taquiza Vegana and Bobablastic were serving customers.

covered seating area

Staff completed all the amenities for the food cart pod ahead of this weekend. Portable restrooms and handwashing stations are set up near the trash enclosure. A large covered seating area is surrounded by standup umbrella tables, protecting the customers from the summer sun. 

Portable restrooms and hand washing stations

An ATM is on-site for those who wish to pay in cash. However, the vendors open today all accept credit card payments.

The list of carts is below, but The Yard at Montavilla website has updated information on what vendors are open this weekend. Make some time to stop by and visit with the cart operators and snag some delicious food.

La Taquiza Vegana – All four taco options
  • Guisados PDX – Mexican Food
  • East African Cuisine
  • Kings of Steak – Philly Cheese Steaks
  • Bai Yok Thai Food
  • Wood Fired Pizza
  • Shawarma Express – Mediterranean Food
  • Bobablastic – BobaTea, Poke Bowl, Hot Dog, Fries
  • Scout Beverages, Inc. – Beer & Wine
  • Taj Mahal Punjabi – Indian Cuisine
  • La Taquiza Vegana – All Vegan Mexican Street Food
  • Little Bear – Bingsu Tofu Popcorn Chx
  • Esan Thai Food Cart – Thai Food
  • Ricky’s Sushi – Sushi Rolls & Appetizers

NE 82nd Food Cart Pod Opens July 4th

Montavilla’s newest culinary destination opens next month. The Yard At Montavilla began development over a year ago, and now construction is nearing completion. Food carts will start arriving this week as electricians install the hookups necessary to power the mobile kitchens.

Last week crews paved the asphalt surface covering most of the corner lot at 8220 NE Davis Street. Workers will complete a shared trash enclosure and other finishing touches in the next few weeks. Several small changes to the infrastructure caused permitting delays that pushed back the original opening date. At this point, not too much more can delay the opening of this highly anticipated eating destination.

Co-owner of The Yard At Montavilla, Jeffrey Dennis, explained that they plan to host a trial run ahead of the official launch of the cart pod. “We’re hoping to open the weekend of June 25th for a soft opening and have July 4th be a Grand Opening weekend.” He went on to say that they have rented all but three of the 16 food carts spaces. Below is a listing of vendors at the cart pod, including Bai Yok Thai Food, who operated a restaurant in this same space before it burned down in 2016.

  • Guisados PDX – Mexican Food
  • East African Cuisine
  • Kings of Steak – Philly Cheese Steaks
  • Bai Yok Thai Food
  • Wood Fired Pizza
  • Shawarma Express – Mediterranean Food
  • Bobablastic – BobaTea, Poke Bowl, Hot Dog, Fries
  • Scout Beverages, Inc. – Beer & Wine
  • Taj Mahal Punjabi – Indian Cuisine
  • La Taquiza Vegana – All Vegan Mexican Street Food
  • Little Bear – Bingsu Tofu Popcorn Chx
  • Esan Thai Food Cart – Thai Food
  • Ricky’s Sushi – Sushi Rolls & Appetizers

Being located across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary, this is a prime location to serve a hungry community. Its launch date coincides with a national easing of COVID-19 restrictions and just in time for summer adventures. Expect new carts to start showing up soon and a buzz of activity as people ready for the imminent opening.


Images courtesy The Yard At Montavilla

Threshold’s Must-Try Food Menu

This weekend, Threshold Brewing & Blending launched their Polish-inspired Zapiekanka menu. This debut marks the beginning of full food service at the taproom with a savory and unique offering. For the past two years, staff mainly served craft beer and appetizers. Expanding into cooked meals is their way to welcome the post lockdown crowds who are already exploring the streets of Montavilla in significant numbers.

Foodservice is a natural fit for the brewery. Their wide selection of beers and other local drinks ensures an extended visit for customers interested in tasting all they offer. However, guests need something to eat between drinks, so growing the menu was an obvious need. “Since day one, people have been asking ‘do you have food?'” Explained Threshold’s co-owner Sara Szymanski. Threshold’s owners wanted to add food that would match their brewed beverages distinctive flavors. 

Co-Owner and brewmaster Jarek Szymanski reached into his past to find inspiration for the new dish. When eating out during his formative years in Poland, the zapiekanka was his go-to food. The traditional Polish street food is a perfect rich flavored dish to serve alongside the brewed selections, and it is not a food found elsewhere in the neighborhood. The classic meatless recipe starts with a white-bread baguette topped in a richly spiced mushroom base. Staff melt the Polish Morski style cheese over the top and then add a serpentine stripe of Polish ketchup down the center. A light dusting of smoked paprika completes the dish. Threshold Serves their zapiekanka in a traditional foot-long paper sleeve, allowing customers to eat it like a hotdog or cut it into sharable segments.

The dish expands from the classic form with several toppings, including house-brined cucumbers and several meat options. The cucumbers are reminiscent of pickles without the overbearing vinegary flavor and can be added to the zapiekanka or served on the side. Smoked Brisket or Polish Sausage toppings round out the menu. Jarek Szymanski has a passion for smoked meats and takes pride in the Brisket’s preparation. He plans to offer spareribs, beef ribs, and pulled pork versions of the dish on select occasions.

The Smoked Brisket melts in your mouth and would a popular item if it was on the menu by itself. The cheese has a mozzarella-like flavor that covers the lightly toasted but still soft bread. The ketchup is based on a traditional Polish recipe, common in that country but difficult to buy on this continent. Szymanski creates his version with tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, sugar, and vinegar. It is more reminiscent of barbecue sauce than ketchup and also unlike most condiments you have experienced. It, too, could be a popular product if they bottled it for people to take home.

The drinks are an essential part of a zapiekanka meal. Jarek Szymanski recommends the smokey all wheat Grodziskie ale titled The Cruise. This historical style of beer from Poland has a clear, light golden color and a strong smoke flavor. Its low alcohol content and distinctive aroma mix well with the meal and won’t overpower the dish’s flavors. After eating, the Rebel Razzle Gose beer will reset the palate. This blackberries and raspberries infused beer is the equivalent of an after-dinner wine with a sweet and robust flavor.

At first glance, the Zapiekanka menu appears uncomplicated and straightforward. Only through eating the dish in its varied forms will you appreciate the complex flavors it creates through each topping. Threshold’s expanded menu will attract non-drinkers looking for a memorable meal and further enamor the breweries’ regular fans.

Threshold Brewing & Blending is located in downtown Montavilla at 403 SE 79th Ave. They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 PM to 8 PM. Fridays, they operate from 4 PM to 9 PM and Saturday from 3 PM to 9 PM. Sundays, they are open for lunch and dinner from Noon to 6 PM.


Disclosure – Threshold Brewing & Blending provided complimentary food and drinks to Montavilla News staff during a special tasting event.

Isamini Bar on NE Glisan

A new bar is coming to NE Glisan Street later this year. Located at 7901 NE Glisan Street Unit 4Isamini Bar is the creation of Sam Nguyen. This is one of the first businesses to appear in the recently renovated 1890 era building.

The first information regarding the bar surfaced in a Liquor Licence application last week. When reached for comment, Sam Nguyen explained that Isamini Bar has a tentative opening date in early summer. However, COVID-19 makes exact timelines challenging to predict.

Located in the building’s single-story section, the bar will be a cozy 667 square-feet. The real estate flyer for the building provides a rough outline of the space. Although still in development, Nguyen offered a broad description of the coming menu “We’re offering a small selection of draft beers, bottled beers, wine, American/Asian appetizers, and food.”

Nguyen is new to bar ownership and should bring a unique perspective to the establishment. Transitioning from the medical field, starting Isamini Bar provides a need change for Nguyen. As COVIS-19 restrictions lift, people will likely rush back to public gathering spaces. This newest destination on Glisan should offer a comfortable space for people to interact with friends and restore their social lives.

Tinker Tavern Opens Tonight

After a successful weekend of soft-opening events, Tinker Tavern will officially launch tonight. Starting at 4 PM Monday, Montavilla’s newest bar begins daily operation. In compliance with regulations, only outdoor dining and take out will be offered.

Tinker Tavern will open at 4 PM every night. Closing time is flexible, between 9 PM and 11 PM, based on demand. As business increases, they will start opening at noon on weekends. Space is limited outside. The tavern has two picnic-style tables that can accommodate four people each. Covered street-side bar seating will fit three groups of up to four people. Customers can place takeout orders in-person, and staff will happily make you a drink while you wait.

Tinker Tavern took a year to come to completion. COVID-19 delays in construction and navigating operational restrictions tripled buildout timelines. Not wanting to waste time, owner Erik Mahan used the delay to perfect the tavern’s menu. Taking inspiration from his business partner’s Buffalo New York upbringing, Mahan developed the deli-pub classics into his own Portland creations. Not all items are available at opening, vegetarian and gluten-free options are in development, but some core dishes are well tested and ready to impress patrons.

Mahan looks forward to the day that he can welcome guests inside. When the most recent restrictions expire, Tinker Taverns will have an additional six to nine indoor tables. The centerpiece of the tavern is the large dark-stained bar. Unfortunately, the guest will not sit along its edge until the pandemic is under control. Until then, staff will serve customers under tiffany style lights at one of the many tables along the outside walls.

Montavilla residents are excited for this location to open. A new destination feels like a piece of normalcy that is missing from our lives this year. Swing by this week and wave hello, have a drink and a quick bite to eat. The staff of Tinker Tavern will appreciate the warm welcome to the neighborhood.

Tinker Tavern is located at 7980 SE Stark Street.