Category: New Business

Lux Lash on SE Stark

This month, Lux Lash and Beauty Bar opened in the red mini-mall located at 8838 SE Stark Street. Owner Donna Myer-Phimmasone, with the collaboration of Colleen St. John, brings near 30 years of combined lashing experience to the new business. The two full-time staff offer lash extensions, lash lifts and tints, and facial waxing.

The experienced staff can create precisely the look a customer wants. “It can range from just looking like they have naturally amazing lashes to super glamorous,” described Donna Myer-Phimmasone. However, the shop prioritizes the customer ahead of the product. Over many years working with people’s lashes, the pair have seen other lash artists become complacent. “When lashes are put on carelessly or when the client is wearing something too big or heavy for their lashes, it can cause long-term damage.” Lux Lash is committed to maintaining high standards so their clients can safely stay in lashes as long as they’d like without damage. “Our first concern is always going to be the long-term health and well-being of our client’s lashes,” explained Myer-Phimmasone. 

Image courtesy of Lux Lash and Beauty Bar

A licensed esthetician since 2012, Myer-Phimmasone has owned a shop before. However, the timing of that venture did not work out. Working with work Colleen St. John, they divide tasks based on each person’s strengths, creating a harmonious workplace build for success.

Donna Myer-Phimmasone always knew she would open a shop again but needed a fitting location for the business. “I had been looking for exactly the right location for a while and knew this was it as soon as I saw the listing. Montavilla was our first choice neighborhood, and everything lined up to make it happen.” The Stark Street mini-mall offers appropriately sized space for small groups while providing storefront visibility on a major road.

Lux Lash and Beauty Bar is open by appointment only. The building offers parking in front of the shop accesses from SE Stark Street. Clients can schedule an appointment online or by calling (503) 734-8549.

Sanctuary Tattoo on SE Stark

On September 15th, Ian Mcvay opened Sanctuary Tattoo and Piercing with his partner and wife, Drea Mcvay. Located on the second floor at 8504 SE Stark Street, the new shop offers body art in a welcoming and inclusive space.

After twelve years working at other tattoo shops, Ian Mcvay felt it was time to head out on his own and create a friendlier tattoo atmosphere. “I really wanted to create a place where all of our clients felt very comfortable coming in and that the people who worked there felt comfortable being there.” Mcvay explained some other shops play loud metal music or have artists who push clients towards a specific type of tattoo. Drea and Ian Mcvay instead built a warm and inclusive space that anyone could drop in for body art.

Owners Ian Mcvay and Drea Mcvay

Ian Mcvay knows the importance of trust and comfort for this type of business, explaining that “tattooing is a very personal experience.” Drea Mcvay added that it shouldn’t be a stressful experience, and it should be accessible to all kinds of people. Ian explained that his temperament lends itself well to the inexperienced client. “I always prided myself in being very good with nervous or new clients… Doing people’s first tattoos is one of my favorite things to do because I know that I’m a little bit more gentle and a little bit more easygoing.” 

Crafting the right image for Sanctuary Tattoo required finding a suitable location. “Well, we did a lot of searching for the perfect spot,” explained Drea Mcvay. They were looking for a section of Portland with a suitable culture and community. Additionally, they needed a neighborhood not over-served by other tattoo shops but still had a place for them. “We needed to find somewhere where there was space for us and also a welcoming landlord. Which was a little bit challenging.” Drea said that tattoo shops have a negative reputation among building owners, “they assumed we were going to be some rough and tumble biker shop.” Fortunately, the building they found previously housed a tattoo shop and was accepting of the business.

Ian Mcvay is currently the only tattoo artist on staff, but a second person will start work soon. Both of them are accomplished artists covering a variety of techniques. “I can sort of do whatever needs to be done. I can do fine-line or bold traditional work.” His tattooing experience also covers a full range of skin tones and placement. There are few limits to what Sanctuary Tattoo can provide. However, being well-rounded, Ian explained that they do not work on portrait tattoos. “I feel that if you’re doing portraits, you make that your career, and you really focus on that.”

Reception Desk between tattoo and piercing areas

On the other side of Sanctuary Tattoo and Piercing’s office is a glass display counter that will soon house quality piercing jewelry, and behind that counter is a private room used by staff piercer Xia Key. They are a licensed piercer and will work on people ages ten years old and up. Drea Mcvay stressed how important it is to have a professional piercer work on your body. She explained that some shops, especially the mall stores, offer lower quality jewelry, and the piercing guns used at those locations often cause infections. “Our piercer is registered with the Association of Professional Piercers, So they had to go through rigorous training and certification… Everything is extremely safe, extremely high quality.”

Front door leads upstairs to Sanctuary Tattoo and Piercing

The whole team at Sanctuary Tattoo and Piercing is excited to be in a business district where their company can expand along with the area as a whole. “We really want to be a part of the neighborhood,” said Ian Mcvay, adding “when we first looked at this place, we walked up the street up to the little area up there that’s got all the bars and restaurants, and we just got a really good feel for the area. We wanted to grow with the spot as opposed to just jumping into a place where we didn’t really fit.”

Sanctuary Tattoo and Piercing is open on Wednesday and Thursday from 12:00 PM to 08:00 PM. On Friday and Sunday, they are available from 12:00 PM to 09:00 PM. Walk-in customers are welcome, and staff will do everything possible to make you feel safe and appreciated.

Dual Storefront Remodel on SE Stark

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.

Image courtesy Flipside Hats

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.

Image courtesy Flipside Hats

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.

Image courtesy Flipside Hats

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.

Image courtesy Flipside Hats

New Adult Entertainment on Glisan

This month, a new adult entertainment venue appeared on NE Glisan near I205. PDX Peaches opened to the public on September 10th in the former Northern Pediatrics building at 9243 NE Glisan Street. The woman-owned business offers lingerie modeling services for men and couples.

Lexi, the manager at the location, explained that PDX Peaches strives to deliver a better class of lingerie-shop. “I [designed] it to have an upscale, clean, comfortable, and safe location for our models as well as our customers.” Lexie lives in the area and appreciates the opportunity to create a uniquely premier Adult entertainment club in the neighborhood.

The shop’s manager went on to describe the specific entertainment niche they fill. “We specialize in fetish and fantasy shows… [for] men and couples, but anyone is more than welcome to come get a show.” Soon they plan to offer a bachelor party and event-space room.

This section on NE Glisan is a mix of residential and commercial properties. The Top of the Hill Tavern sits across the street from PDX Peaches, but most properties on its block are homes. This area’s proximity to the freeway makes it a highly accessible location for businesses. Many of the houses along NE Glisan converted to commercial use over the decades, and the Commercial Mixed Use zoning in this area allows for that use.

Zoning Map around the property

This location supported a dentist’s office and pediatric clinic before its current use. There is no onsite parking for the building, and a number 19 bus stop prevents street-side parking on Glisan in front of the property. However, there is ample street parking on NE 92nd Ave.

9243 NE Glisan Street when it opened as Northern Pediatrics in June of 2020

PDX Peaches is a 24 hour a day business, and the staff is hoping it will quickly succeed in this location. They are open now and will respond to customer inquires through their website’s contact form.

A Market Built for Delivery

Recently, a new market opened along SE 82nd Ave. However, it’s not designed for you to peruse their aisle or visit at all. REEF Technology opened this new location at 1133 SE 82nd Ave to host a collection of impulse-focused brands serving the growing online delivery market. These sellers advertise their products for quick local delivery through various app-based delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates.

Before the pandemic, Miami Florida based REEF Technology began developing their nationwide network of parking lots into delivery hubs and ghost kitchens. That business grew immensely during the pandemic, as customers moved to pick up and delivery services for their dining activities. According to the company’s website, “REEF helps property owners transform their parking assets into micro-distribution centers, in turn connecting the surrounding community with the goods and services they need.” This Montavilla location features a refrigerator trailer for ice cream and other cold packaged products. Next to that trailer is an unlabeled food cart that can provide cooked meals for a host of delivery restaurants under REEF’s NBRHD Kitchens program.

Unlike other customer-centric businesses, this location opened quietly. In late May, Portland City inspectors marked electrical permit 21-041316 as complete. It covered the installation of a new outdoor 200 amp electrical panel with service hookups for the mobile distribution center and food cart. Between the trailers, a portable toilet provides washroom facilities for the few employees working the site and the stream of gig-workers showing up to collect the outgoing deliveries.

REEF owns and operates Light Speed Market from this site, offering connivance store products exclusively through delivery apps. Other brands listed on the locations signboard are independent companies that sell directly to customers online or through regular grocery distribution. Their partnership with REEF allows them to advertise their products on delivery apps alongside local restaurants and more prominent brands. The growth of this model is an indication that it works for REEF’s partners. Less-known brands gain national exposure through the listings in delivery apps, and restaurants can launch in new locations without needing infrastructure or staff.



An environmental conservation argument could support this model as well. Micro distribution centers placed throughout a city will reduce the distance delivery drivers travel, decreasing greenhouse gasses generated by those vehicles. Additionally, shorter routes promote fossil-fuel-free delivery methods like bikes or electric scooters.

Despite the benefits, parking lot markets and unlabeled kitchens could potentially cause damages to a neighborhood. Established businesses in the area now have to compete against a brand with significantly lower costs. Rent on a shared kitchen is substantially less than staffing a dedicated restaurant. Additionally, these micro-distribution centers and ghost kitchens employ minimal staff and do not add to the vibrancy of the streetscape.

REEF has discovered a successful business model that feeds the growing appetite among customers for instant gratification with little effort. Demand may subside after the pandemic, but this type of delivery-only operation is likely here to stay unless people put away the delivery apps altogether.

Volunteers of America Buys Glisan Property

In May, the Oregon branch of Volunteers Of America (VOA) bought a large property on NE Glisan Street from Central Bible Church. The property spans two blocks, encompassing the large church building at 8815 NE Glisan Street and the unpaved parking lot across NE 90th Ave.

In a message from the Central Bible Church about the sale, they described VOA’s intentions for the property. VOA of Oregon runs programs throughout the State that focus on serving the elderly, youth, individuals released from incarceration, people with disabilities, and recovering addicts. At this facility, they will repurpose the existing building and campus to expand the availability of programs they currently offer in Portland. Although VOA is in the early stages of planning, some services expected at this site include the VOA Family Relief Nursery, recovery services, and counseling services.

The Central Bible Church supported its members for 89 years. However, financial difficulties forced the organization to cease operations last year. They held their final service on Sunday, February 23rd, 2020. In a letter to the congregation, church leaders explained that the staffing levels and size of the property were more than what members could support. Mounting utility costs for the 60,000 square-foot facility outpaced its active use, and 65% of the operating budget went to employee-related costs, 15% greater than similar faith-based operations.

Church leadership also pointed to new seismic requirements in the Portland code and over one million dollars in deferred maintenance as deciding factors in the church’s decision to shut down. Staff gifted historically significant documents and pictures from Central Bible Church to the Multnomah University library, which will become part of the school’s permanent archive. Displaced members and leaders created a new church in NE Portland called Stone Table Church and are slowly building up that congregation.

Central Bible Church leadership was happy to have sold to an organization in line with its goals. Like the previous owners, Volunteers Of America is a faith-based organization. Unfortunately, the sale has displaced the SkateChurch that shared the property with Central Bible Church. SkateChurch is currently seeking a new location. 

With such a large property, VOA has many options to develop the land further. Although, there are significant changes needed to the existing structures to meet future requirements. Look for the long-vacant building return to use soon, as it transforms to serve its new function in the community.

View of unpaved parking lot across NE 90th Ave from the main property

Moto PDX Cafe on Stark

Update (December 8th, 2021): Moto PDX Cafe is now open.


Next month, a performance-motorcycle themed cafe will open at 8826 SE Stark Street. Titled Moto PDX Cafe, they will serve Italian coffee drinks and rider-friendly meals that digest well on the road. Within this mid-century modern storefront, owner Brendan Jones brings together his enthusiasm for European MotoGP and his penchant for creating engaging community spaces.

Seven years ago, Jones left an advertising career and created The Big Legrowlski in downtown Portland. What had started as a growler shop eventually grew into a live music venue. He let that business develop organically based on customer feedback. Jones explained that the same process would shape this new venture, “to be successful in business like this, you have to pivot quickly and just listen to or at least observe [customers], because it really is a like a focus group.”

Jones is moving on from The Big Legrowlski, letting others grow that business. He is looking to build a different type of place for people to congregate, based less on nightlife activities and more on a shared passion. The building on Stark Street became available late last year, providing a location for his new creation. Living just ten minutes away from the building and the storefront’s proximity to the motorcycle store Cycle Gear, it seemed like an ideal location to bring his longtime vision to fruition.

The idea for a motorcycle cafe occurred to Jones when he lived in San Francisco. However, real estate costs in California made it difficult to act on that idea. Fortunately, Portland can support the economics of operating an establishment like Moto PDX Cafe, where other cities could not. “Portland is a great space, It isn’t too expensive yet, and it’s still a place where, if you have an idea, you can make it happen.” Explained Jones.

Work on the building will have a light touch, maintaining much of the current layout. White paint will replace the deep black color on the building’s exterior. Green painted highlights will tie in the cafe’s logo to the building. An attempt to expose the original vertical wood beams and raw aluminum window frames is underway, but the many layers of paint pose a challenge. 

The building sits back from the street, creating a deep parking lot. Jones is not a fan of large car-centric spaces and wants to add planers around the property to create a courtyard aesthetic. Motorcycle parking takes up significantly less space than car stalls, allowing him to reshape the street side of the property towards people-focused activities.

Inside the cafe, televisions will show race footage and live events. The long bank of glass-front refrigerators that remain from the buildings earlier use as a grocery will hold European beer and refrigerated foods. Moto PDX Cafe will sell both beer and wine for consumption onsite or carryout. Jones is not interested in recreating a drinking-focused business like his last project, but he understands that it will complement the location’s overall vibe. The cafe will have a full kitchen. However, the menu is still in development. Thanks to an idea from his wife, Jones envisions guest chefs taking over the kitchen, offering a rotating menu and new takes on standard dishes.

Moto PDX Cafe will eventually open to customers from 10 AM to 10 PM. Staffing will have some challenges. Jones is looking for people who are modern motorcycle enthusiasts. Performance bikes throughout the shop will provide additional decoration and be the item of conversation. Additionally, plans for a consignment sales area will ensure this is more than just a food destination for the motorcycle racing community. Cafe staff that can prepare food and speaks with experience about bikes will be imperative to the operation of the cafe. Finding people with both skill sets will take time. 

Look for work on the property to continue through the end of July. The intention is for the cafe to open in early August. As construction tasks complete and furniture arrives, Jones will announce an appropriate opening date. More information on that date should come by the end of the month.

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

Veterinary Clinic on Stark

Today, a presentation at Portland City Council revealed a potential new tenant at 8037 SE Stark Street. The presenter explained that a group of veterinarians intended to create an urgent-care veterinary clinic in the corner shopfront. However, required site improvements could diminish or cancel their plans. This project served as one example in the presentation to support a temporary suspension of nonconforming upgrade requirements.

In the City Council AM Session on Wednesday, June 23rd, Matt Wickstrom with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) shared a slide deck endorsing the temporary regulatory changes. The proposal seeks to remove the nonconforming upgrade burden on tenants during a post-COVID-19 recovery timeframe. Currently, on projects costing over $306,000, the applicant must spend up to ten percent of the project’s valuation on improving the property to current zoning requirements. Nonconforming upgrades trigger on existing developments where a tenant proposes an alteration or renovations, but site features no longer comply with city standards. These fees can sometimes stifle businesses attempting to fill empty commercial properties as the project costs can increase beyond what their budget will allow. Older buildings are most susceptible to this type of hidden development cost due to the number of regulatory changes made over time.

The proposal would exempt projects from being evaluated for nonconforming improvements until March 21st, 2023. After that date, city staff expects Portland’s economy will have recovered. However, the proposal doesn’t consider project size or the applicant’s ability to pay for the upgrades. As a result, larger projects could slip through without meeting site standards, denying overlooked communities the neighborhood enhancements these rules were designed to provide. Example improvements include tree planting, landscaping, and bicycle parking around the site. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty expressed reservations over passing this moratorium, fearing that large developers would take the opportunity to shirk their social responsibility to provide projects that meet the cities livability standards.


Nonconforming Upgrades include:

  • Landscaping – particularly parking lot landscaping
  • Screening – separation between differently zoned sites
  • On-site pedestrian circulation
  • Bicycle parking
  • Trees

An amendment to this proposal delayed the final vote until next week. However, it is likely to pass when it next comes to City Council. The passing of this proposal will clear the way for the urgent-care veterinary clinic to proceed unencumbered by the costs of providing parking lot landscaping. Look for updates to this project in the coming months after next week’s vote.

City Council 2021-06-23 AM Session 3:58:08

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