After a Monday snowstorm, the forecast calls for a comparatively dry and warm Easter Sunday in Montavilla. Several local businesses will celebrate spring with weekend events intended to bring people out of their homes and into the community.
The season-themed market, Zuckercreme, is leaning into the holiday with a Montavilla easter egg hunt this Sunday. The shop will open early at 9 a.m. to host the event. The coordinators ask participants to check in with store staff at 414 SE 81st Ave before embarking on the hunt. If the snow earlier this week caused you to forget about the spring celebration, Zuckercreme has you covered. They are open today and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., selling basket stuffers and the ability to order special pastry boxes for the holiday.
Threshold Brewing & Blending will host a beer launch party this Saturday, April 16th, from 12 noon until 5 p.m. In cooperation with Pup Passport, the neighborhood brewery will donate 5% of the beer and passport sales proceeds to the Oregon Humane Society (OHS). This event centers around the launch of Threshold’s Good Dog Guava, a new guava passion fruit gose beer. The event features BBQ from the local Heartbreaker PDX pop-up.Stop by the taproom at 403 SE 79th Avenue to try the new brew, enter the raffle for special prizes, or pick up OHS pet adoption information. Dogs are welcome.
Despite the recent resurgence of winter, it is the season to head outside and into the neighborhood. However, for those hoping to stay in, Montavilla has many sweet shops, including PDX Cookie Co and DB Dessert Company offering Easter-themed confectionaries to take home. Hopefully, one of these businesses, or other famed neighborhood shops, can make a memorable start to the warmer season for you and your family.
PDX Cookie Co opened in Montavilla on March 7th of 2020, one week before the pandemic closed the storefront to the public. The confectionary maker is now looking to reimagine the local shopping experience with later hours and a new sit-down experience. After years of depending on website orders, the shop’s owner wants to reconnect with neighborhood customers and complement the activities of other Stark Street businesses.
Starting February 1st, PDX Cookie Co will open indoor seating again at the 7919 SE Stark Street shop. Eva Smith, the owner of PDX Cookie Co, sees this as a new beginning. “Given that we were only really able to ‘open’ for a week, we’re considering this a fresh start.” Indoor seating will consist of bar and booth-style seating, with expanded options becoming available as more people start staying to enjoy their treats at the shop. Smith will expand the in-store offerings with water, milk, and iced coffee options to complement the dessert items. Edible cookie dough served in scoops or cones will return to the menu, and thanks to customer demand, the staff will dish out ice cream treats to customers. “Since this past summer, we’ve always stocked the top 6 Tillamook flavors, so we’ll be able to serve the late-night munchie ice cream cravings. Our cookie ice cream sundaes were a huge hit this past summer, so we’re hoping to see an increase of those in the PM crowd, after a drink from Redwood or a movie at The Academy,” remarked Smith.
When the new seating area opens, the store hours will shift to an evening schedule. Starting next month, the store will open daily from 4 PM to 10 PM. Smith explained the adjustment would better align with the community. “Changing our hours of operation was something that just seemed to make sense. Montavilla is much more lively in the evenings, and the bulk of our neighbors are bars, diners, theaters, etc.” Although they would not fault anyone for eating their cookies for breakfast, they know dessert is mostly a nighttime dish. Staff observed that the shop is typically quiet from 10 AM to 2 PM, with activity picking up around 3 PM, right as they began cleaning up.
The shift in-store hours will let employees focus on each part of the business separately. Previously, due to limited staff, bakers and online order fulfillment employees would jump to the front counter to assist customers during the day. A situation that “led to a few burned flavors and missed timers.” said Smith. “So we figured it would make more sense to have our online-team work during the day uninterrupted and be able to take up the whole space and then switch full attention to the local crowd in the PM. It’ll give us more opportunity to focus on the local customers since we’re still new to the majority of them.”
Rebalancing the customer base between online and local is happening at a crucial time. Smith credits the strength of the online store with sustaining the company these last few years. “The pandemic was an interesting turn of events as it took our surroundings from a line wrapped around the block on our grand opening to a complete ghost town the following week. Thankfully, a ton of people started ordering cookies online, and the tag #QuarentineCookies became a thing for the year. Our online presence saved us without a doubt.” However, that online intensity has faded and is now further complicated by social media blocks on the company’s accounts. “Unfortunately, Instagram started shadow-banning our account, deleting numerous posts, and threatening to remove our account in the past few months,” said Smith. Being unable to contact anyone at the social media company, the staff can only guess it is related to their joke slogan “come get baked” and “edible cookie dough” product name. Smith thinks they flagged the business’ posts as potentially illegal drug sales. The company never uses THC or CBD ingredients, but the terminology possibly triggered automated keyword filters.
Ultimately, Smith accepts the change and wants to grow the neighborhood shop to its full potential. “It’s been extremely stressful amidst all the other chaos of the year, but it was one of the main factors that spurred us to change the hours of operation. So even though it was frustrating to be punished for something we didn’t do, I think it’ll end up working out for the best.” PDX Cookie Co will rely less on other companies’ platforms and build more direct relationships with customers by creating a weekly email newsletter and strengthening face-to-face interactions.
After nearly two years, PDX Cookie Co is back on track to becoming the dessert destination on SE Stark Street. Smith is excited to develop experiences that bring people into the shop. Soon visitors can participate in a March Madness event to select a new signature flavor or collect free birthday cookies, among other promotions. Eva Smith enjoyed the community support over the last few years and has high expectations for seeing people in the shop again. “I absolutely love being in the Montavilla neighborhood. I’m hoping 2022 can return somewhat to normalcy or whatever that is nowadays.”
Weeks before the official statewide shutdown, PDX Cookie Co opened their Montavilla store at 7919 SE Stark Street. Just as the shop became popular, people were ordered to stay home. Despite that challenge, the Cookie shop has seen success. With an established online business, they have managed to thrive during the pandemic. Now, as people are venturing out again, they are expanding store hours.
The opening day of the confectionery saw lines wrapping around the block. PDX Cookie Co was the first of what was to be many new eateries coming to Montavilla town in early 2020. Instead, COVID-19 changed plans all over Portland, and nearly overnight customers disappeared. The owner of PDX Cookie Co, Nisha Chitale, described the two extremes as jarring. “We had an awesome opening weekend followed by months of a ghost town.” Chitale considers PDX Cookie Co fortunate to have opened before the virus ramped up. Otherwise, they may have had to postpone the opening indefinitely, as many others were forced to do.
PDX Cookie Co was launching their first storefront, but they were already a successful online business. “Luckily, we started online, and it has always been our primary business,” explained Chitale. Even as walk-in customers diminished, PDX Cookie Co kept their storefront open throughout the closure, from 10 AM to 4 PM Friday-Sunday. The doors were open, but most people stayed home. Stuck at home, customers needed the comfort of cookies more than before and continued to buy. New local interest, driven by the successful opening, only added to online orders. Chitale was caught off guard by continued customer support online. “[I was] shocked and beyond grateful to have had our business boom during the quarantine.”
The growth in business was a relief for PDX Cookie Co employees as well. “Our employees are all close friends who continued to work during the quarantine. They were laid off from their other jobs, so this was able to keep food on their table,” explained Chitale. At the store, they enacted measures to protect staff and customers. Screening people for symptoms before coming in and social distancing in the building. “For extra precaution we also temporarily discontinued our edible cookie dough cones so there was less chance of any contamination.”
As the restrictions have gradually lifted in Multnomah County, PDX Cookie Co extended store hours for the summer. They are now open Friday through Wednesday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Edible cookie dough cones have now returned to the menu, joining cookie ice cream Sundaes. Indoor seating continues to be closed, but drop-in customers are welcome.
Online orders continue to outpace walk-in customers, but Nisha Chitale enjoys having the storefront. “My favorite things about having the brick and mortar location is being able to make goodies that don’t have to ship and getting to meet all of the Montavilla residents. Both business owners and nearby families are some of the kindest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met.”
The storefront is a unique benefit from Montavilla residents. Online inventory of new items can be exhausted within 5-10 minutes of being released. Chitale sees many customers excited to find menu items available at the storefront that sold out online. Chitale commented that the retail location has a better selection compared to the online store.
With demand as high as it has been, they may have outgrown this location. Chitale is still evaluating future moves. Ideally, PDX Cookie Co would expand in this location or move production and online order fulfillment to a commercial kitchen. Regardless of how they manage expansion, Chitale hopes to remain in this neighborhood that has treated this business so well.
At the time of opening, the line had already stretched around the block. The opening day at PDX Cookie Co. was a success, and it was obvious just two hours in to the day. People had come from near and far to show support and buy their sweets. Some people came from as far as Seattle just for today. The line was slow moving but near all decided to wait it out, in true Portland fashion.
Many people waiting in line sent group representatives to get coffee to keep warm on the cold Saturday morning. The covering over the sidewalk along Stark Street, sheltered the line from rain. Once inside customers were greeted with warm air, sweet smells, and an exciting decor.
The staff were busy keeping the line moving and posing for photos from the excited crowd. Near every patron stopped just past the cash register to take a social media picture with their baked goods.
The mood in the store is still at its peak excitement for such a good start to the first day. Considering the crowds, things have started off better than they can have hoped for. Make sure you stop by in the coming days to say hello and welcome them to Montavilla.
While walking along Stark, anyone accompanied by a child or someone with a sweet tooth, has been notified about the opening of PDX Cookie Co. Often by a shout and some finger pointing by your walking partner. There is a general excitement about having a sweets shop open in Montavilla town. This will be a juxtaposition to the bars and restaurants that dominate that stretch of Stark Street.
Located at 7919 SE Stark Street, they will be celebrating their grand opening March 7th and 8th. They will open their doors at 10 AM but close as soon as they sell out. Make a plan to swing by early to buy something or just view our newest shop.
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