Tag: Moto PDX Cafe

Moto Cafe Pivots from Venue to Carts

Moto PDX Cafe could soon host up to eight food carts placed in its front parking lot at 8826 SE Stark Street. This next phase of supplemental business activity will follow a brief closure as staff remove the soundproofing recently added to the large glass windows at the front of the single-story building. The business owner installed that sound-deadening material in an attempt to contain the dance music played within. However, continued noise complaints encouraged him to abandon his ambitions for a local music venue and re-evaluate what business activity would work well for the surrounding community.

Moto PDX Cafe opened as a motorcycle-racing-themed restaurant and cafe in December 2021. Launching a new food service business during an already difficult time for restaurants hampered early growth, and cafe owner Brendan Jones looked for ways to supplement income for his young eatery. “Coming out of the pandemic after a less than stellar performance with the cafe, which has been very difficult, I was thinking we could get folks out to enjoy music events,” explained Jones. The initial performances were successful, and dance music during the evening hours was a growth area for the cafe. “That seemed to be going OK, and then I had someone approach me from the neighborhood.” A person living near the storefront could hear the music and felt it was louder than they liked. Jones proceeded to soundproof the front of the building around the beginning of the year in an attempt to contain the music. “The problem with sound is that it’s more art than science,” said Jones, and his attempts to block the noise seemed more challenging than expected.

After considerable expense and repeated attempts, Jones felt he had contained the dance music to the premises. After applying a new layer of foam material, he began playing music and walked the surrounding blocks to see how far one could hear anything. Feeling confident that his adjustments to the building worked and that he was not likely to disturb the neighbors, he continued to operate the dance venue. However, despite his efforts, the person returned with another notice about the excessive volume. Eventually, an official complaint came in, and Jones did not want to continue to press the issues. “The city notified me, and I didn’t wanna disturb the neighborhood, so we just stopped,” said Jones. “It’s not as if we were doing it to be jerks.”

Jones is always ready to adapt his business to meet demand, and food cart service has been an option for the property since he bought the building. With an end to the dance music, Jones felt it was time to move to the next phase. After reopening, Moto PDX Cafe will continue operating its full bar and offering a select menu. Jones has changed out the cafe’s food items several times since launching, and it now provides a small number of vegan/vegetarian options. Food carts will substantially expand the variety of cuisine while drawing more people in for adult beverages and coffee drinks. Jones acknowledges Montavilla has several food cart pods in the area but feels this space has an advantage. “I think one of the benefits of having the building in the rear is that during winter, it’ll be nice and warm and cozy.” Food cart patrons can enjoy their meals indoors with heat and restrooms while having access to a wide variety of drinks. Additionally, Jones sees the Stark Street space as nicely situated for patrons east of 82nd Avenue.

Expect Moto PDX Cafe to remain closed as they work on the property. The space will reopen after the cart tenants begin operation at the location. Food cart vendors can fill out a contact form at the cafe’s website to reserve a space or review terms.

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Dance Party Weekend at Moto PDX

Starting this Friday Night, Moto PDX will host a weekend full of dance parties. Beginning at 9 p.m. DJ Good Things will take over the cafe at 8826 SE Stark Street, playing music from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. The music returns Saturday night at 9 p.m. with the Disco, Funk, and Boogie sounds of the 1970s. Both evening events are limited to those 21 years old and up. Event organizers will provide an all-ages dance party on Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. All dance events are free to attend.

The Moto PDX Cafe opened last December, offering cafe dining and performance motorcycle maintenance. In the evenings, the space can transform into a nightclub for events like this weekend’s festivities. Pick your dancing day this September 23rd through the 25th, and head over to SE Stark Street for a special night out in Montavilla.

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Moto PDX Cafe Opens on Stark

This week, Moto PDX Cafe opened at 8826 SE Stark Street after months of preparation. The cafe celebrities the culture, art, and spectacle of performance motorcycle racing. Inside the bright white storefront, owner Brendan Jones creates a living room atmosphere with a wide variety of seating options conducive to intimate conversations or communal discussions around the cafe’s theme.

At one end of Moto PDX, couches surround a TV playing classic motorcycle races. Performance bikes and attire separate seating and add color to the white interior. Artwork placed on display throughout the cafe highlight artists who use motorcycle racing as their muse. Lining the back wall, coolers featuring beers, wines, and other chilled beverages glow with LED light.

Jones is building out the full menu during the winter but currently offers many variations on the panini sandwich. Staff prepare espresso and other coffee drinks at an art-wrapped counter upfront. Employees at the cafe are motorcycle riders and enthusiasts, making this a destination for riders and race fans to talk about their passion.

This winter, Jones will organically shape the cafe to meet his customer’s expectations. Previously he created The Big Legrowlski in downtown Portland. What started as a growler shop eventually grew into a live music venue, proving to Jones that adapting to customer needs is what makes enduring communal spaces. Using what he learned from The Big Legrowlski, Jones will take time with the early days of Moto PDX and not over program the cafe. Because of that approach, customers should stop in and see what they like and make requests.

With time, Moto PDX Cafe will grow around its customers into a gathering space for the community. They are open 7 AM to 7 PM Monday through Thursday, with extended operating hours of 7 AM to 10 PM on Friday and Saturday. There is parking in a private lot in front of the cafe where it is safe to leave your motorcycle… or car if you have to drive that day.

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.