Category: Business Closing

Spencers Appliances Closing after 4 Decades

Spencer’s Appliances at 7115 NE Glisan Street will permanently close its doors on February 1st after forty years of serving the community. The new and used appliance store’s owner plans to retire, renting out the three commercial buildings on NE Glisan Street to the next generation of businesses. Several employees have formed a new company and will open their appliance repair store later in the year.

Eugene Spencer started Spencer’s Appliances with his son in the early1980s after retiring from the military as a refrigeration specialist. “I started with my father, Eugene, in 82. He was doing stuff out of his house because he retired from the Navy, and he just started tinkering around keeping himself busy,” remembered John Spencer. “I was working at a seed mill in Tangent, OR. I went to college for a couple of years, and college wasn’t for me. Then my dad called me and said you want a job? Come up here and work for me.”

Ben Schafer, the owner of Cash and Carry Appliances on NE Glisan, wanted to relocate his 30-year-old business to SE Hawthorne, allowing the Spencers to set up shop in an established location. “There was a pre-existing appliance business here, and the guy wanted to move to a bigger building. So we bought this building,” explained John Spencer. “This was a good location, and we had people walk in the first day and buy an appliance from us because it was an appliance business before.”

That early success gave the Spencers confidence, particularly John, who at 21 was new to the business. “I still remember going, ‘Holy crap,’ there’s people in here buying stuff. I didn’t know anything, and then we started fixing appliances and selling them. We eventually got a GE dealership. It just took off from there.” Said John Spencer. After growing the business together, the father and son team added an employee. “It just slowly but surely got busier and busier, and then we hired Wes.” Wes Swisher had also retired from the Navy and knew Eugene Spencer. According to John Spencer, Wes was instrumental in the growth of Spencer’s Appliances. The business continued to expand year after year, eventually employing 20 people.

By 1984, the appliance shop outgrew the original storefront at 7123 NE Glisan, so they constructed the current showroom next door. In 2000, the company completed a new warehouse building at the corner of NE 71st Avenue and Glisan Street. Both newer buildings support apartments on a second floor above the commercial space, creating six units. The Spencers eventually bought the land one block east, building the Glisan Plaza at 7201 NE Glisan Street.

Twenty years ago, Eugene Spencer stepped away from the appliance business, leaving John in charge. “He was a great boss. We worked six days a week for 20 years, and then he retired,” recalls John Spencer. In 2012, Wes Swisher also retired. Both are healthy and enjoying their time away from work. Around the time Swisher left, John Spencer became concerned about Glisan Street. Car thieves have repeatedly stolen his service vehicles, and miscreants often vandalized the buildings. In 2019, a driver collided with his store and fled the scene. John Spencer enjoys the new families that have moved to the neighborhood and the business taking root around his shop but seeing the negative shift along his street is disappointing. “I think it is the worst I’ve seen it, the crime that you see walking up and down the street.” Said, Spencer. The shift in public safety and labor issue stemming from the pandemic have encouraged John Spencer to retire from the business. After searching for a buyer interested in running the store for seven months, he and his family decided it was better to shut down the company.

John Spencer will miss the daily interactions that have made his career enjoyable. “It’s all about the people. I just like meeting neighbors and talking to people. It was my social time. You go into people’s homes and learn things from their experiences in life. 90% of the people you deal with are just beautiful, down-to-earth people.” Spencer will also miss solving problems for customers. He takes pride in fixing someones vexing appliance problem and seeing the relief it gives people.

John Spencer is happy with the company his family built in Montavilla and the impact they have made on the lives of those who worked there. “It kept my family fed, and I think I’ve created a lot of jobs. I’ve got ex-employees that still do appliance stuff. There’s people that have found a career because they walked in the door one day looking for a job,” explained Spencer. “It’s been a wild ride.”


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Cascade Athletic Clubs Closing on Stark Street

On January 31st, Cascade Athletic Clubs will close their Montavilla location at 9260 SE Stark Street. After nearly 36 years in this prominent storefront near Mall 205, the multi-location fitness company has opted not to renew its lease. Existing customers can transition to the Gresham location starting in February.

Cascade’s Portland location opened on Stark Street in August 1987, just ten years after the original Gresham facility began serving the health-conscious community. Scott Dobson, manager of the Montavilla location, said his facility is the only fully leased gym within the organization. The family-owned fitness company bought the Gresham property in 1977 and is part owner of their Vancouver, WA, facility. Consequentially, closing the Portland location is the most sensible place to cut back costs after a challenging few years. “The Pandemic closed our doors twice for months, and we never recovered, ” explained Dobson. Closing this location allows the company to refocus on the other two sites. Dobson and many of his staff will relocate to one of the other locations. However, it will be quite an adjustment for the team after many years of working in the neighborhood. “I have loved the 34 years working in Montavilla. I am doing my best to run a great club until February 1st, help my staff transition to other locations, and help give my membership the information they need to choose a new club.” Said Dobson.

This change will also complicate operations for Cascade 205 Physical Therapy, an embedded business that uses Cascade Athletic Clubs’ equipment as part of its rehabilitation program. John McAllister, Clinic Director at Cascade 205 Physical Therapy, said they intend to remain at that location but are still working on details. “At this point, we are planning to stay in the building to continue to serve patients in the neighborhood. We are working to have a full assortment of exercise equipment in our space. If we are not able to stay in this location long term with a new anchor business, we will move very nearby to continue to serve patients in Montavilla and inner SE Portland.” Said McAllister.

Scott Dobson acknowledges this is disappointing news for its members, some of whom have decades of experience going to this gym. “It is definitely sad, but I am concentrating on finishing December and January strong and taking care of our members and staff.” The Montavilla location will remain in operation for another month. They are open Monday through Thursday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. on weekends.


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Massive I84 and 82nd Ave Property for Sale

An acre of Commercial Mixed Use real estate at 1411 NE 82nd Avenue recently became available on Montavilla’s northern edge. The lot, adjacent to Interstate 84, is the current home to Eastern Cathay restaurant and is the former birthplace of the Elmer’s Pancake House franchise.

The listing agent, Adrian Chu of Specialty Real Estate Group, is positioning this property as a “developer’s dream.” The parcel sits at the intersection of a freeway, 82nd Avenue, NE Halsey, and the TriMet MAX Light Rail system. The site is underdeveloped, with only a single 4,500-square-foot restaurant building at its center, surrounded by more parking than guests could fill. If redeveloped, residents could quickly travel to any destination from this location with numerous transportation options, and retail on the ground floor would have access to hundreds of daily commuters.

Courtesy Danna brothers and Midcounty Memo

This site was born out of the I-84 expansion, having been leveled during the widening of Sullivan’s Gulch. The 1950’s era civil engineering project required the demolition of the McCarthy & Danna Food Center that had formerly occupied the land over the freeway where NE Halsey connected to NE 82nd Avenue. The store’s operator, Salvatore “Sam” G. Danna, intended to rebuild the grocery store on the remaining property not taken by the freeway project. However, a restaurateur suggested a different use for the vacant lot. In 1960, Danna constructed the first Elmer’s Colonial House of Pancakes restaurant on this site for Walt and Dorothy Elmer. Opening in 1961, this breakfast-focused restaurant began what would become a Northwest business empire spanning multiple states. However, this location closed after the customer base shifted to other areas.

Sanborn Map 1924 showing McCarthy & Danna Food Center location

In October 2008, Rong Liang Mei bought the property and restaurant. Having already started two successful restaurants, the new owner quickly converted this location to Eastern Cathay. The business is available as part of a sale or will shut down after the deal finalizes. At $3 million, this property may stay on the market for a while. However, its size and location make it a tempting acquisition for a developer or government buyer.

191 Apartments Proposed on SE Division

The new owners of a large warehouse at 8301 SE Division Street recently proposed a transformation to the 30,000-square-foot property. Last month, Diamond Plaza LLC applied for Early Assistance with the creation of 191 apartment units over 4,390 square feet of ground-floor retail space. A veteran of similar projects, Hoff Construction Group, will manage the site’s development.

Only 50 feet of the property exists on SE Division Street. Most site access occurs along SE 83rd Avenue. The lot is in a Commercial Mixed Use 2 (CM2) zone with a Centers Main Street (m) overlay. That will allow buildings with four stories, except in locations where bonuses allow up to five levels. The M overly requires active ground floor commercial uses with windows and a minimum building footprint covering a large portion of the site. This overlay also limits certain auto-oriented uses and favors compact, walkable design.

Image from Portland Maps

Division Street has seen many recent high-density mixed-use development in the last decade. However, few of those projects extend east past 82nd Avenue. In 2019, Hoff Construction Group completed a similarly sized complex to what designers proposed at SE 83rd and Division. That project at 2595 SE 50th Avenue created the Division Street Station apartment building with a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units. If both developments are indeed comparable, it could indicate a significant change for this section of East Portland, with the influx of new residents helping fill retail vacancies in adjacent properties like the Pacific Plaza.

Tran’s Auto Body last occupied the green 8,999 square-foot warehouse now at the site. That automotive services company recently ceased operation after two decades. Upon closing the business, Quy Tran sold the SE Division Street property to Diamond Plaza LLC. The Mt. Hood Building Supply company was one of the original tenants of this 1970-built structure, using the large metal building for lumber storage. Its early uses shaped the utilitarian design of the site, and subsequent businesses did not alter it much over the years.

This location’s current configuration reflects an industrial past that now seems out of place next to Portland Community College and the pedestrian-scale retail developments along the street. Converting this location to housing aligns with the efforts of Jade District leaders and other community groups working in this area. Most people should welcome the new mixed-use building if it is approved. 

The current proposal is only in the Early Assistance phase of development. Details of the project will likely change before the owners apply for building permits. However, any significant construction on this site will improve SE 83rd Avenue. That street only has 230 feet of sidewalk along its western edge. Work at this property will create 360 feet of new sidewalk and replace pavement on its eastern side of the roadway, improving the utility of this currently dead-end street. Expect further updates regarding this project in 2023 as designers refine their plans for this transformative redevelopment.

Rey Taco Food Cart on SE 82nd

This week, Rey Taco opened at 145 SE 82nd Avenue, replacing Su Casa Taqueria. This standalone food cart is a new venture offering “LA Street Food.” Although reusing the Su Casa Taqueria cart, Rey Taco staff upgraded interior kitchen elements ahead of opening. The owners demolished the preexisting outdoor seating area and created a new covered deck with tables. The black cart now has a colorful wrapper featuring LA skyline imagery and the restaurant’s logs.

Su Casa Taqueria opened in that location around 2007 as the lone food cart in the area. Based on filings with Oregon’s business registry, several people operated the cart over its sixteen years. The host business for the restaurant also changed during that time. When food service began from this site, Meineke Car Care Center operated out of the single-story service station building. Later, Trendsetters Truck and Auto upgraded vehicles from this location. Now, the mobile kitchen sits in the northwest corner of the parking lot for Max’s Auto Spa

Old Su Casa Taqueria logo

Rey Taco serves an assortment of tacos, birria quesa tacos, machetes, tortas, mulitas, burritos, enchiladas, and chilaquiles. Consider visiting this new open-air dining destination and explore the extensive menu. The cart is open daily for lunch and dinner. There is a discrepancy between Facebook and Google Maps regarding the hours of operation. However, they should start serving guests by 11 a.m. and close sometime after 9 p.m.

New Rey Taco logo

Classic Crust Bakery Closes on SE Stark

After 22 years in business, Classic Crust Cafe & Bakery is closing permanently. The commercial bakery located at 8911 SE Stark Street will sell all remaining baking supplies, dishware, and cafe furnishings this weekend.

Owner Leonora Vujovic ceased the cafe operations several years ago and focused on selling her baked goods directly to business customers. She continued to work alone through the pandemic maintaining many of her customers. Vujovic seemed comfortable with the choice to close her business, saying, “sometimes you open and sometimes you close.” Now that the lease has expired, it is an appropriate time to wrap up the business.

Vujovic will be at the business selling items on July 9th and 10th or until all items are gone. Many of the commercial bakery equipment has already been sold. However, cafe dishes, small appliances, baking supplies, and outdoor table sets are still available. Interested business owners or the general public are welcome to come by and purchase these items before Classic Crust Cafe & Bakery needs to vacate the space next week.

Paitong Thai Cuisine Closes

Paitong Thai Cuisine at 8000 NE Glisan Street recently closed its doors permanently after a challenging few years. Bounnam (Nancy) Somvong opened the family-run business in 2006 and dedicated herself to making it a well-reviewed neighborhood destination. The space is currently empty, awaiting a new tenant. However, the restaurant’s exterior signs remain on the building, and the distinctive interior murals are still visible through the windows.

Paitong has anchored the corner retail space at NE 80th Avenue and Glisan Street for sixteen years. For many Montavilla residents, this inviting space provided a reliably tasty meal. At its height of exposure, Paitong appeared on TV when 90 Day Fiancé stars Kyle and Noon Huck dined at the restaurant during an episode. The restaurant owner and chef, Bounnam (Nancy) Somvong, grew up in Laos and Thailand before moving to the United States at age 17. As a lifelong cook and fruit carving artist, this restaurant fulfilled a dream for Somvong.

The pandemic hurt Paitong’s business, just as it has many other restaurants, and in June of 2021, an illness forced the family to limit operating hours. Last year the Somvongs asked for the community’s help through a GoFundMe campaign. On the fundraising page, the owner’s daughter Alyssa Somvong expressed her hesitancy in seeking financial support from the community but explained its importance to her mother. “This has been the hardest thing to ask for, but I want to see my mom return to the restaurant where she belongs.” Although the restaurant continued operation after the GoFundMe campaign, the family ultimately needed to shut down this location.

Montavilla fans of Paitong Thai Cuisine will miss the food and friendly atmosphere created by Bounnam (Nancy) Somvong. The community appreciates the investments made by the Somvong family in the neighborhood and wishes them well in the years ahead.

Sunny 82nd Market Closes

Sunny 82nd Market, located at 944 NE 82nd Avenue, closed this week, ending a long history of food sales at this site. Since its construction in 1926, the single-story shopfront supplied highway travelers and area residents with groceries for almost 100 years.

Originally constructed as a storefront with an attached house in the rear, the building hugged the road’s edge at 228 E 82nd Avenue. It was the sole commercial property on the massive block owned by the Oregon Employment Institution for the Blind, now occupied by Montavilla Park and Multnomah University. City staff adjusted the building’s address to 944 NE 82nd Avenue during Portland’s Great Renumbering of 1931-1933. In September of 1934, the building’s owners relocated the structure further back from the street to allow for road widening.

1928 Sanborn Map

For over three decades, the R.B. Grocery and Meat Market served the community from this location. During its near 100 years, the property changed hands many times, most recently in 1987. The name of the market also changed. However, it has remained a destination for the hungry regardless of what people called it. The business owners first registered Sunny 82nd Market at this address in 1991 and let the registration elapse last year.

R.B. Grocery and Meat Market – 944 NE 82nd Avenue – 1934

The next chapter for this building is uncertain. No recorder property sales or real estate listings are available at the moment. Expect to see some transformation to the site over the next twelve months as this location once again finds a new purpose.

Tub and Tan Reopens on Stark

After a lengthy pandemic closure, Portland Tub and Tan has reopened its location at 8028 SE Stark Street. The businesses owner, John Captain, struggled for months to resolve issues with Multnomah County fees and other taxes incurred during his forced closure that prevented his opening. However, last Friday, Tub and Tan returned with a limited schedule and will remain open until November 2022 before closing permanently.

With 25 years in business, Portland Tub and Tan has seen its fair share of ups and downs. However, the COVID-19 closures were unique in their disruption and length of impact on this small businesses. In 2020 pools and spas were only allowed to operate for a few months. That included the first months of 2020 and then during the end of summer through the beginning of fall. Officials kept indoor pools and spas closed during much of 2021 but did allow outdoor operators to open.

Captain argued that Multnomah County should have credited health permit fees from 2020 and 2021 that he could not use during the closure. Kate Yeiser, a representative for Multnomah County, explained that they had little flexibility to adjust the fee structure. “Unfortunately, pools and spas are not given credit for months that they closed in 2020. This is a State program that the county is simply operating. So the decision would have to be made by the Governor’s office on whether credits can be applied for months closed in 2020 or 2021.”

Without income, Portland Tub and Tan had a nearly insurmountable deficit to overcome in order to reopen. Mounting taxes and operational fees compounded over the years. John Captain said he had hoped that as a Native American, his business would receive financial support from assistance programs intended for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) establishments. However, that money did not materialize for him, and he ultimately had to pay for his taxes and the 2022 heath inspection license.

Portland Tub and Tan is open five days a week from Wednesday through Sunday. They open at 4 p.m. and begin the last hour-long session at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights have extended hours, with the final session beginning at 1 a.m. Tubbing for up to two people costs $70, with an additional $20 per person fee beyond that. Currently, customers should walk in to make use of the services offered. However, a prepaid reservation system will be available soon.

Until November, fans of Tub and Tan can once again make use of this recreation facility that has operated on Stark street for many years. After closing, John Captain plans to move out of Oregon. He feels that the cost of water, taxes, fees and rents are too high in this area to continue operation.

Pawnshop Closes on 82nd Ave

The pawn shop located at 933 NE 82nd Avenue closed its doors and boarded up the windows this month. The family-owned business has operated the shop along 82nd Avenue since buying the property in 1996. Before that, it was the motorcycle destination of the area.

Developers constructed the single-story storefront in 1961 for a Matchless Motorcycle dealership. During the next four decades, the location represented the great expansion of American motorcycle culture in the area. Matchless’s parent company, Associated Motor Cycles (AMC), filed for bankruptcy in 1966, and sometime after that, the business changed to Portland Motorcycles. Often featured in Cycle World magazine, the November 1977 issue described Portland Motorcycles as having an impressive selection of parts.

Matchless Motor Cycles dealership ad 1961, featuring a signpost from Portland Oregon.

“Portland Motorcycles has a parts inventory that dates back to 1968-’69. They service Moto Guzzi as well as Ducati and Suzuki. Mr. Hillis, owner of the shop, says the parts department is in 90 percent good shape 95 percent of the time and that the company has the largest parts inventory on the West Coast.”

In the 1980s, the location became better known as Portland Kawasaki and continued operation into the 1990s. The future use of the property is uncertain. However, the 4,590 square foot corner lot is suitable for mixed-use redevelopment. Look for changes at the property later this year.