After nearly a decade in the neighborhood, Toast Inc. has relocated from its shop on SE 80th Avenue to a new purpose-built facility at NE 42nd and Killingsworth Street. The manufacturer of laser cut wood and leather products expanded operations over the years to encompass an extensive collection of device covers, offering personalized designs and promotional items. The former workshop at 403 SE 80th Avenue is now vacant, awaiting its next tenant.
Moving to the new location enables Toast to grow its business and make space for other similarly creative people to work on their craft. “We got the opportunity to build a new building to our specific needs that would also have additional maker-artist spaces to lease out,” said Toast Founder Matias Brecher. The second floor of the new two-story commercial building offers leasable workspaces while Toast works out of the main floor. Tenants have rented all but one of the artist studio rooms, firmly establishing Brecher’s vision of a creative community building.
Toast launched in January 2012 as a Kickstarter project with 300 backers. Crowdsourced funds facilitated the initial purchase of a CNC laser and materials that Brecher developed into Toast. Initially, the company produced walnut iPhone 4 covers in a basement workshop but soon hired staff and relocated to the Montavilla workspace. Now, growing further, Toast is making its new home in the Cully neighborhood.
The move is biter-sweet for the business. “We miss the restaurants and bars and the Academy theater for sure, but we are excited to be part of growing the 42nd Ave community,” explained Brecher. Montavilla has incubated many independent manufacturing operations dating back to its earliest days. Toast is another example of the quiet success seen in the workspaces around the neighborhood. Look for the shopfront on SE 80th Avenue to become available soon, and visit Toast at 4232 NE Killingsworth Street if you are in the area.
Last Thursday, Elizabeth Guerrero and David Doyle finalized their purchase of the historic Taylor Court Grocery property. The pair own the La Osita PDX food cart located on 122nd Avenue near Market street. After renovating their newly acquired storefront at 1135 SE 80th Avenue, they will sell the cart and relocate their Mexican restaurant and coffee house to the Montavilla location.
La Osita PDX opened in a small food cart in January of 2018 after Guerrero and Doyle noticed a lack of a good breakfast location near their home in east Portland. The partners bought the cart from a friend and found space on 122nd in the parking lot of the Plaza 122 building. Combining a shared food service background and recipes inspired by Elizabeth Guerrero’s Mexican heritage, the partners brought Coffee and their unique brunch/lunch menu to an underserved area.
At first, the parking lot space was ill-equipped for carts, and they had to run their operation from a generator secured in a nearby cage. The location received strong community support, and business picked up throughout the year. However, before making their first anniversary, someone stole the generator and shut down the business. Fortunately, the building owners saw the value in the cart’s continued operation and allowed the installation of a dedicated electrical hookup.
Business continued to grow, and they eventually upgraded to a larger cart. Unfortunately, the theft of critical equipment continued, prompting the group to consider a more permanent solution and give up the cart life. “Being a cart in Portland is kind of a bummer. You’re really exposed, and people think nothing of just stealing whatever they can off your cart that’s critical to opening up your store each day,” explained David Doyle.
Doyle expressed that remaining in their current community was a primary goal for the move. “A lot of the businesses on [122nd Avenue] come for lunch, and that’s a big part of the business.” However, searching for a suitable small brick-and-mortar location near the cart proved challenging for Guerrero and Doyle. An expanded search surfaced the Taylor Court Grocery, and they instantly saw the potential in the 100-year-old retail space. Although three miles from the original location, they hope customers will follow them to SE 80th Avenue.
In December, Guerrero and Doyle applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and worked through the challenging process of acquiring the Montavilla property. The deal includes both the storefront and single-family home on a shared lot. To make the finances work, the new owners will need to rent out the house on the property. They are considering many options, including a childcare facility.
The grocery store building will require substantial renovations to transition into a restaurant. It will start with some sizeable deferred maintenance projects. “The storefront, we just wanna get it stable,” said Doyle. “We don’t know the extent of damage, but it looks like the roof needs a repair or replacement.” Once crews repair the outer shell, work will focus on the inside of the building. Contractors will add a commercial kitchen to the back of the building and an ADA-compliant bathroom. The new owners expect a large number of customers will take their meals to go. Consequentially, they will use a counter-service layout for the restaurant with customer seating upfront.
Guerrero and Doyle plan to refresh the street-facing appearance of the storefront but maintain the historic appearance, including the Taylor Ct Grocery sign. “We love that sign. It almost feels like a shame to cover up the Taylor Court grocery part of it, but we’re thinking we’re going to refinish it,” said Doyle. After repairing and weatherizing the sign, they will repaint it with the restaurant’s name but maintain its original shape.
La Osita PDX offers an extensive menu from the cart, and the team does not feel they are missing many options. However, staff will grow the selection slightly after the move while keeping all of the favorite to-go friendly dishes. Guerrero plans to add Aguas Frescas and horchata to the drink offerings, with traditional Mexican pastries to balance out the savory options. Elizabeth Guerrero and her sister Maria Guerrero run the restaurant, with Maria playing a critical component in kitchen operations. They both are thrilled to move out of the cart and into the larger space. With the number of customers they serve and the size of the menu, space was always the constraining factor for La Osita PDX.
Much like the previous owners of Taylor Court Grocery, Mel Hafsos and Errol Carlson, La Osita PDX is a family business wanting to serve the community. Look for construction to begin within the next few months and check for updates on the company’s Instagram page. Until the restaurant opens later this year, Elizabeth Guerrero and David Doyle encourage you to visit the cart on 122nd Avenue to explore the menu.
Portland’s food carts tend to stay in one place, causing patrons to forget that they have wheels. However, these mobile kitchens can change locations, and at least two local carts are on the move early next year. Although these popular dining destinations are heading out of Montavilla, they are still a short trip away.
In an Oregonian interview released last week, Erica Montgomery revealed that Erica’s Soul Food would be moving from the space next to Henry’s Market at 803 SE 82nd Avenue. “Early next year, Montgomery plans to transport her truck to the courtyard next to Lottie & Zula’s, a New England style sandwich shop in the former Toro Bravo space at 120 N.E. Russell St.” The new location is just under six miles away, near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Erica’s Soul Food will share an outdoor dining space with Lottie & Zula’s at the new site. This move appears to be the next phase of a strengthening relationship between the two ventures. Lottie & Zula’s co-owner frequents Montgomery’s cart, admiring her cooking and work ethic. This year, both restaurants collaborated on a meatloaf sandwich sold as a fundraiser for Equitable Giving Circle. Later, Montgomery used the restaurant’s larger kitchen for a catering event when it exceeded the cart’s capacity.
Just down 82nd Ave from Erica’s, La Taquiza Vegana is leaving the food cart pod at 8220 NE Davis Street. As one of the original carts from The Yard at Montavilla’s opening this summer, its time in the area was short-lived. Devyn Marie, Co-Owner and Operations Manager for La Taquiza Vegana, explained that they only planned to stay in the old location for five months. “The Yard was always just a temporary spot for us while we waited for our permanent location to be completed.” They are relocating to a new food cart pod at 2216 SE 50th Ave. Although the owners appreciated the community in the neighborhood, Marie said the team wanted to work closer to the city center. “We really enjoyed being a part of the Montavilla neighborhood for the short time we were there. The location is just too far out for us as we like to be more centrally located.”
The loss of these two neighborhood carts will likely disappoint some customers, particularly area vegans. La Taquiza Vegana only serves vegan foods. Erica’s Soul Food offers an extensive vegan menu and standard options. The other vegan food cart located at the Yard, Little Ethiopia Eatery, closed down permanently last October. With these two carts’ departure, there are very few vegan cart options in the area.
The exciting part of food cart culture is the constant change in options. People create new dining experiences, and customers rarely have the chance to become bored with the selections. Although these moves may disrupt some customer behavior, dedicated patrons will seek them out. Look for something new to arrive at the soon-to-be-vacant cart locations and visit some old friends when they settle in their new homes.
After six years serving the community from their cafe on NE Glisan Street, the owners of Fillmore coffee shop decided to close the physical store and embrace online coffee delivery. The pandemic closures and customer tensions stressed this early pioneer of Glisan street, forcing the family business to adapt. What had begun as a temporary financial bridge during the COVID-19 lockdown turned into the permeant path forward for the coffee company.
In June of 2015, when the Fillmore coffee shop opened at 7201 NE Glisan Street, there were few options like it on the street. The shop’s co-owner Tim Willcox perceived the lack of food services in the area as an opportunity to take his passion for coffee to the public and perhaps start a trend. “[I] saw a need for a community space on this stretch of Glisan. This was back when there was pretty much nothing happening aside from East Glisan Pizza. It was sort of a dead zone, and I think Fillmore helped to fuel some cool businesses developing in the area,” explained Willcox. Within a few years, bars, bakeries, and other dining options filled in around their shop.
Tim Willcox and his wife started the shop with a loan from his mother. For years, they struggled to build a stable business but saw success as others joined them on Glisan. Then COVID-19 brought that all to a halt. “We decided to cease our cafe operations due to the pandemic. Our sales had dropped nearly 80 percent in just a matter of days, and the lockdown on March 15th cemented our destiny. We had to let all of our staff go,” remembered Willcox. “Our only path to keeping the business alive was to start delivering bags of freshly roasted coffee to our customer’s doors.”
The roasted coffee delivery program kept them afloat until the cafe reopened in mid-May 2020. They served to-go orders through a plexiglass window with inside seating closed to the public. The business was nothing like before, and working in this reduced capacity stressed the staff. “Nobody was allowed inside the shop, and Monika was working her other full-time job while making all the food orders. Our daughter was doing remote learning on a laptop at the shop. It was a grind, to say the least. We managed to do this for a year until spring 2021,” explained Willcox.
After trying to make it work, it became apparent to Willcox that the new business model was not sustainable and no longer rewarding. “Things had just become too complicated and stressful with the pandemic, and while most of our customers were great and thankful about our safety protocols, we had to deal with quite a few people who were genuinely angry that they couldn’t come inside to order and hang out. We were screamed at and insulted by disgruntled customers.”
For the family business, it was time to move on from the cafe. However, Willcox did not want to give up on the delivery service. It is a way to keep roasting great coffee and remain connected to loyal customers. As an online-only business, Fillmore is still evolving, according to Willcox. “It’s still a work in progress. We’re building out a small Roastery and coffee lab. Things have been slower, yet still steady.” As the team builds onto the delivery business, they hope to gain a few wholesale customers and develop a nationwide mail-out service.
For Willcox, the transition to online coffee sales was the right choice for his family. “Right now, I’m happy with what we’re doing, and it gives me time to take my kid to and from school every day. It’s definitely less stressful.” If you miss your morning cup of Fillmore Coffee or want to try out one of their roasts, schedule a delivery online at orderfillmorecoffee.com
After one year on NE Glisan Street, Tigersden Vintage relocated to 3900 N Mississippi Ave. Last month staff closed their Montavilla shop at 7035 NE Glisan Street and moved into a new retail space four and a half miles away. Despite strong ties to Montavilla, safety concerns prompted the shop’s relocation outside the neighborhood.
Owner Salina Nuñez is a Montavilla resident, making the retail space on NE Glisan Street a natural choice for her first physical storefront. “Our location on Glisan was my first brick & mortar [location], which we opened in the heart of the pandemic. I am so proud of the work that we were able to accomplish there and the vibrant community of vintage sellers that were financially supported by our success,” said Nuñez. She continued to explain that the supportive community fueled their early prosperity. “We loved our neighbors in Montavilla and grew to have many regulars. The folks [in] Montavilla are the best, and we learned so much from them about how to be a customer-oriented small business.”
The positive customer base could not always counteract other forces in the area. Eventually, concern for her staff’s safety caused Nuñez to relocate the business. “We were prompted to move due to the amount of violence and harassment that was taking place in the neighborhood. We had our front door smashed in and had to suffer through the mental illness crisis of many houseless folks who would come into our shop and harass the women who are employed [by] me. After a year of trying to build a sustainable resale clothing store in our neighborhood, I made the decision to move to a safer neighborhood.”
Moving a business is a difficult choice with many costs and the potential to lose customers. However, Nuñez noted some regulars have already ventured to the new location to show support. Tigersden Vintage staff are happy with the move and feel comfortable in the North Portland neighborhood. “Our new location on Mississippi is safer and has more support from the city and the police. We love the diversity of folks who shop with us, and Mississippi is a street that brings everyone together.”
This last year in retail challenged Nuñez, but ultimately her waste-reducing retail business thrived, and she sees a better future with these recent changes. “In this last year, we have sold over 100k of preowned clothing, accessories, and home goods that would have ended up in the landfill. The last year has been a wild ride, and the next few years will be even more awesome for Tigersden vintage & Modern.”
Flipside Hats officially reopens in its new location on Monday, November 1st. The apparel maker relocated operations to 7850 SE Stark Street from the 4400 block of SE Belmont Street this month, after an extensive renovation period. Many long nights went into the move, but staff have now settled into their new home and are ready to show off the company’s renowned product lines in the new showroom.
The owners of Flipside Hats bought the Montavilla building at the beginning of 2021. The decision to move to Stark Street stemmed from a desire to embed the business in the neighborhood, explained co-owner of Flipside hats Jacob Wollner. “We are a community business, and Montavilla is our home, our community.” Owning the building means they can safely put down deep roots as they further grow the company.
Until recently, staff would design, manufacture, and distribute the products from a single location. Before moving operations, Flipside Hats partnered with clothing producers to manufacture the company’s designs at different locations. Production remains local, with 90 percent of the product line made within the Portland Metro area. This new location supports the store and showroom upfront, with design, operations, and e-commerce fulfillment occurring in the back portion of the building.
Although not complete, the shop already emotes a mature retail experience. It features ample open space between intricate displays packed full of clothing accessories. Throughout the store, staff insert antique furniture and luggage into the layout, creating an antique aesthetic that softens the edge of the new construction.
Although built-in 1946, the building received a substantial update this year. Crews completely replaced the storefront that previously served as an office. A modern aluminum and glass wall now extends the width of the building, offering expansive views of Stark Street. The extended height doors and taller windows pour sunlight onto the showroom floor. The natural finish of the reclaimed wood floor bounces that light around the room, creating a muted but rich illumination, even on a cloudy day. The owners removed the flat interior ceiling to reveal the barrel vault roof structure in a bold embrace of the building’s form. The curved wood planks show grey stains from their original use as forms for the building’s concrete walls. The rough finish overhead sets the tone for the function of this space. It is not only a place for retail but where creators design the next season’s products, just beyond the rolling barn door behind the cash wrap.
Flipside Hats’ store serves two roles for the business. It is principally a retail shop ready to provide customers with whatever new product the company offers, but it is also a showroom featuring the complete product line. Flipside Hats and their other brand, Hats for Healing, rotate product lines twice per year—retailers from all over the country stock their store shelves with selections from the Fall-Winter and Spring-Summer collections. This storefront allows buyers to view the company’s offerings in a retail presentation. Due to the variety in styles created here, very few retail chains sell the full assortment of products. This showroom is the one place that has all available items on display. Currently, all but 15 hat lines are out on the sales floor. Wollner expects to have the remaining hats out soon.
Starting Monday, the shop is open to the public from 9 AM to 4 PM weekdays and 11 AM to 6 PM on the Weekends. Staff plan to adjust store hours based on seasonal changes and customer feedback. They are excited to be open in Montavilla and ready to outfit you for the Winter weather or assist with your holiday shopping.
On October 1st, Zuckercreme will open a new Montavilla location at 414 SE 81st Ave. After less than a year in the Brooklyn neighborhood, owner Brittany Sigal decided to relocate the shop closer to home, taking over the former INVOKE space. The store will sell a curated selection of locally produced products and menu items.
Seasonal variety guides the selections offered to customers at Zuckercreme. Starting Friday, the shop will feature items under the collective theme of pumpkin spice & everything nice. They work with different bakers to offer a special rotating menu, along with coffee and tea drinks. Seasonal treats and drinks are only one part of the shop’s offerings. Each theme will encompass a selection of fitting homewares, vintage items, artwork, clothing, accessories, and ceramics. The space will also host scheduled workshop events.
The idea of seasonality is essential for Sigal’s vision of Zuckercreme. “I love the idea of a shop telling time. Rotating themes and being in sync with the time of the year means I’ll always be moving forward, and I’ll never get bored.” Sigal imparts her excitement for seasonal transformation to the customer through all the senses. “Zuckercreme is meant to create a temporary world where you can fully immerse yourself in an experience and enjoy the tastes, smells, colors, and memories of that season. Food is a big piece and what I believe connects us to each other. I wanted a way to work with people that would allow them to participate based on their own nostalgia, culture, and personal taste.”
Like the store’s aesthetic, Zuckercreme’s name stems from nostalgia. “Zuckercreme is sugar cream in German. My family is German, and I’m from the good ol’ midwest, Indiana. Sugar cream pie is Indiana’s state pie and what I always grew up eating.” Explained Brittany Sigal.
The business began last June as a Saturday market titled the strawberry museum. It contained a small retail area and space for food vendors to sell treats. By July, they had expanded into a cafe. Thursday and Friday featured morning cafe service with retail and the occasional workshop. Saturday continued as the collaborative market day, and Sunday featured a special brunch. By August, they started offering dinner service on Thursday nights.
Although expanded food service seemed to be the direction Zuckercreme would grow, the location did not fit. “I was unsure of the future of the space, and the cafe didn’t work as well because the shared space I was in was more of a destination spot rather than somewhere that would have foot traffic, which is what I needed,” explained Sigal. Over the few months at the shop’s last location, they were able to test out ideas and figure out what worked and what needed to change. “This [experiance] very much shaped my future shop because I realized I wanted to do more retail and workshops with a small cafe and still host the community markets. I needed a better spot to make that successful, where there would be foot traffic, and I could make my own hours.”
These discoveries were not something that Brittany Sigal could instantly implement. It was not until the space in Montavilla opened up that the future iteration of Zuckercreme became a reality. “I don’t think I would have moved forward with taking on the risk of running my own space if I had not gotten the one I’ll be in,” commented Sigal. The new space does not contain a kitchen limiting the menu at this new location. However, according to Sigal, food is still an essential part of the shop’s future. “We will either have the seasonal coursed meal experiences off-site if we find another pop-up spot closer to Montavilla or do menus that don’t require a full commercial kitchen.”
Many details regarding Zuckercreme are in development and will likely continue to transform over the years. By design, the space will appear different to customers between visits but remain familiar. By continually changing, customers will need to visit often to see what’s new. Fortunately, being located within Montavilla Town offers a good amount of foot traffic to pull the curious and adventurous person of the street and into the shop. Starting this Friday at 9 AM, consider adjusting your path to stroll along SE 81st Ave and see what creations are for sale at Zuckercreme. The store is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday through Saturday. Sundays, they host a community market from 10 AM to 2 PM.
Yesterday, construction crews began installing the new aluminum and glass storefront at 7850 SE Stark Street. The owners of Flipside Hats bought this building at the beginning of the year to become the new headquarters and factory for their apparel company. When completed, two new shops will occupy this space.
The majority of the building will support hat production, retail, and other business operations for the company. However, Flipside Hat owner Jacob Wollner thought the showroom did not need to occupy the entirety of the storefront. There was an opportunity to split the space and create a second 609 square-foot shop for another tenant. That second storefront will have a separate main entrance and restroom. Wollner explained that it would be an ideal space for a small flower shop or jewelry store. Although prospective tenants have shown interest, none have committed to opening there.
The buildout was delayed by a slower than expected city permitting process and a personal matter that took Wollner out of the country. Until recently, the installation of six gooseneck barn lights above the windows was the only outward sign of construction at the site. Now work has ramped up again, and progress is visible. Wollner’s full vision of the building has taken form now that the new aluminum and glass storefront is in place.
The building began its existence in 1946, housing the Hook Cycle Shop. Later, Mt. Tabor Schwinn Cyclery took over the space until the mid-1980s. In 1998 a group bought the building for their business, Electronic Claims Services. At that time, the owners removed the storefront and transformed the structure into an office building. This current renovation work is restorative, bring back the shopfront appearance lost in the last century’s remodel.
Soon, Flipside hat staff will relocate from their current store at 4438 SE Belmont Street to this new Montavilla location. For twenty years, the building has had its shades drawn and doors shut to the neighborhood. However, even before the store opens on Stark Street, this refacing project will reconnect the continuous retail on the block. Once again, the inviting light of shops will shine out onto the sidewalk and guide shoppers along Montavilla’s historic main street.
After months closed due to fire damage at their previous location, Portland Garment Factory (PFG) staff will move into a new home. This formerly downtown Montavilla business will now produce zero-waste apparel outside the neighborhood boundary in the Forge Parkour building. This week electricians are on site preparing the recently purchased building for the clothing manufacturer’s equipment.
Located at 311 SE 97th Ave, the PGF staff will work across the I205 Freeway from Montavilla. The building became available after Forge Parkour shutdown permanently amid pandemic restrictions. The unique structure was purpose-built for its last occupant three years ago. Designers of the corrugated metal-clad building created distinct angles along the entire facade of the building, hiding its warehouse-sized interior. The building’s unusual shape is visible from the I205 Freeway and is eye-catching even when driving past the building at 60MPH. The property is located between SE Stark Street and E Burnside Street, allowing easy access from major streets.
PFG owner Britt Howard and staff recently posted a montage video chronicling their preparatory work on the company’s Instagram. The building is practically new and appears only to require minor alterations. Designed to hold a gym, the interior of the building is open with high ceilings. That configuration should accommodate the long bolts of fabric and large machinery used in the company’s manufacturing business.
After the fire on April 19th, the community mobilized to support this beloved Montavilla business. People expressed their support for PGF’s rebuilding efforts through a GoFundMe campaign that raised over $118,000. Many of the supporters have already voiced their excitement over the new building through social media. Britt Howard has maintained grace and perseverance when speaking publicly about the tragedy of losing a business, always working toward the goal of reopening. Keep an eye on the companies website and Instagram for updates on the official opening date.
After nearly three years on NE Glisan Street, TriTech Bikes moved out of Montavilla. A relentless series of break-ins, vandalization, and assaults pushed this business out of the neighborhood. Its departure could become the first in a wave of area shops relocating to better parts of Portland or closing down permanently.
TriTech Bikes owner Dylan Carrico-Rogers grew up around NE Glisan and wanted to be part of its revival. His shop, formerly located at 7323 NE Glisan Street, occupied a transitioning section of Glisan across from the Candlelight Restaurant and Lounge. Before the pandemic, despite challenges, the area was on its way to becoming a walkable business corridor.
Within the last 18 months, Carrico-Rogers experience three break-ins, two nearby shootings, property destruction, and biohazardous waste all over the property. After losing $25,000 to theft, TriTech Bikes’ insurance premium increased by 150%, with the insurer threatening to terminate coverage if it happened again.
In a phone interview, Carrico-Rogers expressed how disappointed he is in the neighborhood support systems. According to Carrico-Rogers, he reached out to his landlord after each break-in but found them unsupportive and incapable of securing the building. The Portland police failed to patrol the area after months of sustained burglary and violence surrounding his shop. Even when an unlicensed and uninsured motorist totaled his vehicle parked out front, police officers let the person drive on due to insufficient resources.
Carrico-Rogers felt ignored by a local business association that he saw as focuses on Stark Street. By his assessment, the community is mishandling Portland’s problems and unwilling to voice a collective outcry for help.
He pointed to the community’s excessive empathy for the houseless as contributing to open drug use, public defecation, and increased larceny. He admits he reached a breaking point but cautions the neighborhood that he is not alone.
According to Carrico-Rogers, other business owners he spoke to on NE Glisan, from NE 67th to 82nd Ave, are also looking to move. He explained that those who owned their buildings would keep the property but shutter the business. People working in the area see a future where NE Glisan is build up like inner SE Division Street. However, they know that transformation is five or ten years away. Carrico-Rogers explained that no business could survive what the area has become, waiting for things to improve.
Daily life has vastly improved for Carrico-Rogers and TriTech Bikes staff. They relocated to SE Clinton Street in a single-story shopfront located at 2622 SE 25th Ave, Suite A. Now positioned in an active commercial area closer to the city center, things are safer and calmer. Now they can focus on supporting customers and recovering the losses suffered over the last year and a half.
UPDATE – The opinions of the subject interviewed in this story do not represent the perspective of Montavilla News.
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