Yesterday, painters replaced the marquee logo at Ya Hala Lebanese Cuisine. The updated sign adds color behind lowercase “ya hala” text. The previous text featured a thin monochrome font reading “Ya Hala Lebanese Plates – Established 1999.”
Located at 8005 SE Stark Street, the staple of Montavilla Town last painted their building in 2016. The update is an inspiring indication of our community’s gradual reopening after a year of COVID-19 restrictions.
Demolition crews began work clearing the property that will soon become The Yard At Montavilla. Heavy equipment removed two foundations and other buried remnants from the two houses that once occupied this location. With the ground cleared, work can start on Montavilla’s newest food cart pod.
Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the future food cart pod is across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary. When completed, the site will host 17 food carts. Owners Jeffrey and Kevin Dennis have many of those spaces leased already. The Dennis brothers faced an unexpected wait as the pandemic slowed the permitting process. However, those delays are behind the project, and work should complete within three to four months.
Montavilla lost a cluster of food carts with the demolition of Beets Auto Body. The Yard At Montavilla is a welcomed return of food carts for residents looking to expand their food options. The Dennis brothers share that enthusiasm. “We’re very excited to be bringing this to the Montavilla neighborhood, providing a space for 17 other small businesses to operate and thrive.” Expect to see crews onsite for the next few months, building the new dining destination’s infrastructure.
Photographs by Weston Ruter. Rendering provided by The Yard at Montavilla
Enchilada Express opened its second location this week. The new restaurant, serving Mexican food, is open for takeout. Located on SE Division next to the recently completed Pacific Plaza, this additional location is in the heart of a rapidly growing section of Montavilla.
Located at 8245 SE Division Street, this Enchilada Express location joins the original restaurant on SE Powell Blvd. The menu offers a range of Mexican dishes that should be popular with the lunchtime crowd. Place orders over the phone at 503-477-9800, on their website, or when visiting the location.
Vietnamese restaurant Phở Kim closed on June 1st after an early morning fire. Located at 2204 SE 82nd Ave, the building suffered damage to its roof near the mechanical systems. A new building permit indicates imminent repairs after months of delays and an early 2021 opening.
Yesterday, permit application 20-222762 started the review process for restoration work to the building’s roof. The minor fire damage appeared to be a quick repair based on outward appearances. The online message announcing the temporary closure indicated staff believed it was only a momentary disruption. “We hope we are able to resume service soon.” The next update announced December would be the likely opening date. However, the last update postponed that date.
With a building permit in process, there is a high likelihood that repairs will occur in early 2021. Pho Kim’s opening could take place months beyond the completion of work, but their online messaging demonstrates an eagerness to start cooking again. Watch the Phở Kim website for announcements regarding an opening date.
UPDATE – Excellent Cuisine is now open from 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM daily. A new website for the business offers images of the menu and testimonials. They can be contacted by phone at 503-946-8830 or you can order delivery from any of these three services: Postmates.com, Grubhub.com, and Seamless.com.
Update from November 14th , 2020.
UPDATE – Excellent Cuisine had a soft opening this week with one Yelp reviewer posting his first impressions. The restaurant also now has a DoorDash page available for placing home delivery orders.
The King Plaza building prominently displays a new Excellent Cuisine sign, replacing the Wong’s King Seafood sign. Not too much information is available regarding the new establishment. The liquor license application paperwork shows a checkbox for “Video Lottery Machines” on site. The application was filed by Y & W Trading LLC with owners Yu Xiong Zhang and Wan Fang Kuang. The owners’ names are listed on the application but crossed out and replaced with the LLC.
In the coming months, expect to see more information on the cuisine type and an opening date. Based on current indoor dining restrictions, it’s likely to be a while before they open. However, many are already excited to see this location filled with another restaurant.
In a scene reminiscent of the 1800s boomtown, Montavilla is lining its main streets with roughly constructed wood structures. These Parking Plazas first took the shape of roped-off areas along the street’s edge. A handful of tables were set in the place once used for parked cars, and customers were seated for an open-air experience. This experiment is an effort to offer dining in the era of COVID-19, and it has been successful during the summer months.
Customers came to their favorite bars and restraints, enjoying the novel setting along the street. Soon the ropes became fences, and then canopies appeared over some Parking Plazas. Now we see the addition of substantial structures with roofs—string lights inside zigzag along the ceiling, ready for the coming early-sunset. Montavilla businesses are preparing for a long fall and winter of outdoor dining, as the pandemic lasts longer than expected.
The weather has not yet turned cold and rainy, but we will feel the wet chill around us within two months. At that time, there will be a test on outdoor seating’s viability in the Pacific Northwest. Will people brave the cold for the social interactions we gain by going out?
2020 is the year of uncertainty, and the building along our streets is the best attempt to beat uncertainty with preparation. Hopefully, the people of modern Montavilla are as hearty as those who first created these streets two hundred years ago—joining our neighbors for a drink and meal on a cold and damp evening.
This weekend marked the opening of Montavilla’s newest food hall. A hand-painted sign hangs over the doors of Rocket Empire Machine, announcing the location to the passersby. Inside are five new destinations for hungry and thirsty customers.
Located at 6935 NE Glisan Street, this highly anticipated opening attracted interest around Montavilla and beyond. Each unique location brings something special to Montavilla’s food scene, and together they continue the economic buildup on NE Glisan.
Gigantic BrewingRobot Room is Gigantic Brewing Company’s new taproom, in addition to their other location at 5224 SE 26th Ave.
The Pie Spot is also a second location for Jessica Woods, expanding the reach of the beloved local bakery and coffee bar at 521 NE 24th Ave.
Tierra Del Sol is the none mobile second location for Amalia Sierra’s Oaxacan and Mexican food cart.
In the future, this new food hall will offer outdoor seating shared between the five businesses. For now, each location will only offer takeout until restrictions change, and the outdoor accommodations become available. With the first days of operation behind them, all of these locations should be ready to earn the repeated patronage of the Montavilla residents.
The much-anticipated opening of White Rabbit Cafe and Bakery will have to wait until 2021. Morgan and Jax Hart have postponed the launch of their new brunch spot to preserve the restaurant’s original intent, which could not exist with current restrictions. Instead, they will lend the space to their other creations. Starting August 14th, 7940 SE Stark Street will become Heartbreaker Market.
The original Hungry Heart Bakery location, at 414 SE 80th Ave, will temporarily become an ice cream focused shop, serving Heartbreaker ice cream by the scoop, and pint. The transformation of the 80th Ave location will happen in the coming weeks.
According to Morgan Hart, postponing White Rabbit was the only reasonable choice if they were going to open the location as envisioned. Staff expressed that they are not conferrable offering table service at this phase of the pandemic. Brunch is inherently a sit-down experience. There was not an elegant way to make White Rabbit takeout friendly. “Nobody does Eggs Benedict takeout,” said Morgan Hart. “it would be mush.” For the Harts, this was not White Rabbit’s time to open.
Construction at the new restaurant has been underway for months, albeit slower due to social distancing. The Stark Street location is mostly completed now, except for booths and other dining room finishes.” The kitchen looks like a kitchen [and] the counters are looking beautiful,” exclaimed Morgan Hart when describing the progress. This level of completion at Stark Street is sufficient for takeout services. The Harts did not want to waste the opportunity to use the new larger kitchen and prep space. Moving operations to the Stark Street location will be a relief for the seven staff members who have been trying to make do in the smaller kitchen on 80th Ave.
Heartbreaker Market will not provide table service at this location. As Hungry Heart operated down the street, they will continue to serve takeout through zero-touch sales. They plan to expand the menu at the Stark Street location, incorporating some of the takeout friendly options intended for White Rabbit.
The fully implemented White Rabbit will open in January 2021. At that time, Hungry Heart will return to its old location. The Hungry Heart menu will then adjust to focus on sweets, with savory items remaining on Stark Street at White Rabbit.
The Harts have a strong vision for their restaurant creations and compassion for their staff’s wellbeing. That has guided them to look to a longterm perspective when planning around this pandemic. They expect to be in Montavilla for many years, making proper execution of their vision more important than a hasty opening.
Construction is now complete on the much-anticipated restaurant taking over the former Country Cat location. This past weekend, Lazy Susan staff officially started dinner service, representing the diner’s official opening.
Kayla Morrell, of Lazy Susan, described the opening weekend as successful. “We’ve seen a fair amount of turnout for our first weekend of full-service dining, and hope that continues as word gets out in the neighborhood.”
Dinner service is available from 4 PM to 9 PM, Friday through Sunday. They expect to add Thursday dinner in the near future, as business ramps up. Lazy Susan will also begin opening for brunch on Sundays and Mondays. However, the exact time and date for brunch service are yet to be determined.
Lazy Susan’s dining area and bar are ready to accept customers, having been carefully worked on for months. However, indoor seating will remain closed. “While the situation with COVID continues, we plan to remain in a takeout and outdoor-dining only format.” Said Morrell.
The restaurant’s interior expresses both cozy and open feelings. Woodwork surrounds the interior on all surfaces and creates compartments within the space. However, the areas’ division is represented on the outer edges, making the core of the room open and expansive. Wood dominates all corners of Lazy Susan, but the variety of stains and finishes prevent it from feeling excessive. Recessed lighting and ornamental light-fixtures illuminate all the compartments, further creating defined space without walls. The contoured paneling of the ceiling and wood floors will reduce sound reflection, creating a comfortable volume, once the room is packed full of people. For now, customers will have to view the detailed woodwork and creative lighting through the windows.
The kitchen is updated to support the charcoal centric menu. Some eliminate are a holdover from the Country Cat. Two under-counter refrigerators and the six-burner range are original. The custom charcoal grill is all new and sits center stage in the open kitchen. Future customers will be able to sit kitchen-side to watch the seasonal creations sizzling.
Lazy Susan occupies the corner shopfront in the historic Dickson Drugs building, located at 7937 SE Stark Street. The second weekend of dinner service starts tonight at 4 PM.
Renowned Portland firm, Osmose Design, created Lazy Susan’s distinctive look.
Thatcher’s lounge is currently closed for renovations. They will be opening back up on July 27th. Located at 7906 SE Stark Street, the sports bar and breakfast spot is a fixture in Montavilla town.
Cody Palmer, manager at Thatcher’s, described the renovation as long overdue updating. “[We’re] tearing out decades-old carpet, laying down some wood floors, painting walls, adding TVs and window-side booth seating.”
In addition to the interior upgrades happening at Thatcher’s, they have some outside improvements planned. Starting this weekend, they will begin constructing a 40-foot Parking Plaza, using the parking spaces in front of the bar.
Patrons will not need to wait long before seeing the new upgrades to their favorite bar. In just two weeks, they expect to see many customers seated out on Stark Street or enjoying an updated experience inside.
Neighborhood news site focused on buildings and changing businesses