Tag: Monticello

Monti’s Cafe Pauses Operation Until March

In a January 19th Instagram post, the owners of Monti’s Cafe announced they would close the cafe until sometime in March. The popular restaurant at 8600 SE Stark Street is struggling to keep adequate staffing levels and needs the time to regroup. The adjoining business, Monticello Antiques, remains open with regular hours.

During the pandemic, the cafe’s customers have witnessed many positive updates to Monti’s Cafe. In April of last year, construction work transformed a three-car parking lot into a fenced courtyard with many outdoor dining amenities. Unlike other temporary structures built throughout Portland, this investment was a permeant commitment to making customers comfortable. However, spending on business upgrades will not solve all COVID-19 related issues.

Monti’s Cafe owner Kelli Vinther explained that they are facing similar employee retention issues seen across the foodservice industry these last few years, along with other market forces brought about by current circumstances. “Like many restaurants in Portland, it’s the same issues. Staff shortage and this ongoing pandemic.” Instead of limping along understaffed, the cafe’s management wants to retool the shop and return with quality food and service in a little over a month. “We need time to put together a good team and make adjustments to our menu,” said Vinther.

Foodservice locations across the country face limited staff, unfilled positions, and increasing ingredient costs. Those constraints are further compounded by lower customer volume, making food preparation challenging to predict. Temporally closing a business reliant on repeat customers can seem drastic, but it is sometimes the best approach to maintaining quality service. Kelli Vinther knows Monti’s Cafe will return stronger in a few months after taking this break.

Courtyard at Monti’s Cafe

Customers visiting Monti’s Cafe will soon enjoy a fenced courtyard with many amenities. Crews have created brick pillars around the former parking lot in front of the eatery. Soon, wrought iron fence segments will link the pillars together, creating a semi-secluded space for people to enjoy their purchases. A street-side gated entry will remain open during Monti’s Cafe’s hours of operation.

The idea to create this outdoor space predates the pandemic. However, owner Kelli Vinther explained that current circumstances made it a priority. “In the past year of COVID, comfortable and comforting outdoor seating has become extra important to our customers.” Vinther seeks to create an outdoor oasis for Monticello and Monti’s Cafe guests in this space that once served as a three-car parking lot.

UPDATE – completed courtyard

The loss of parking was an easy sacrifice, according to Vinther. “The huge majority of parking is, and always has been, on street… The promise of an enlarged eating area far outweighs the loss of a few parking spaces.” Unlike the temporary outdoor seating created throughout the neighborhood in response to COVID-19 restrictions, this change is permanent, with substantial structure added to the property.

Eight umbrellaed tables will fill the newly enclosed area. Additional seating will surround a fire pit. The sounds of a fountain and an array of potted plants will further shape the space. The fencing and decorations will provide a buffer from the heavy traffic on SE Stark Street. “It’s going to be a beautiful, inviting courtyard for our customers to enjoy Spring, Summer, and Fall,” proclaimed Vinther.

Monticello Antique Marketplace and Monti’s Cafe are located at 8600 SE Stark Street. Both are open during construction.

UPDATE – completed courtyard