Last week, the seventh annual Around the World in 82 Dishesbegan along the entire length of 82nd Avenue in Portland. The business district’s promotion runs for two weeks, concluding on November 6th. The event highlights a wide selection of dining destinations on 82nd Avenue with a focus on multicultural flavors found along the busy roadway. As an incentive, the event organizers created a contest that enters participants into a drawing for multiple $50 gift cards.
Although any food and drink-related business on 82nd Avenue is eligible for the contest, a group of Montavilla eateries are featured participants in this year’s event. Most of the food carts at The Yard at Montavilla are on that list, along with Sebastiano’s. That level of participation yields increased promotional exposure and includes free digital menu services from Foodi-Menus. Ads for the event are currently running in local news publications like Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury, along with Instagram. Koin 6 News featured the event last Wednesday, showing off foods from vendors at the neighborhood food cart pod.
The contest is just one part of this event, presented by the 82nd Avenue Business Association with funding from the American Rescue Plan and Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. The two-week-long food celebration focuses on the diversity of Portland by exploring tastes from cultures across the globe. Many establishments are owned by immigrants that bring their culinary skills and enthusiasm to the foods they serve. Around the World in 82 Dishes seeks to spotlight those businesses and bring people out to East Portland during the traditionally slow season for restaurants.
The appreciation of food alone is not the only motivator for people to participate. The contest for $50 gift cards is a strong incentive to draw people out to the district, even during rainy weather. Interested contestants can use the BabbleBuy mobile app to find locations and post on social media with the hashtags #82ndFoodies and #82Dishes. Those who want to avoid using the mobile app can post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or TikTok using the two hashtags.
There are only a few days left before the event concludes, but that leaves plenty of time to get out and visit your favorite location or experience someplace new. Keep up to date on the event at 82dishes.com, and bookmark that site to stay informed about next year’s Around the World in 82 Dishes.
Disclosure: Montavilla News is a member of the 82nd Avenue Business Association and the author of this article serves on the board.
Last night at 4 p.m., the first Thursday Night Farmers Market opened to customers in the recently reopened Public Plaza at SE 79th Avenue and Stark Street. Representatives from Montavilla Farmers Market, Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association (METBA), and vendors gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by the traditional bell ringing to open the market. Visitors quickly filled the square to shop the five booths and refreshments providers at this min farmers market.
Starting on July 7th, farm and food vendors will set up in the Plaza on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Moorish Roots, Kulfi, Sebastiano’s, and Threshold Brewing & Blending are some of the inaugural participants making a regular appearance. An assortment of vendors will return weekly this summer, with the final evening market held on September 29th.
This mid-week market is possible through a Vibrant Spaces Community Events Activation Fund grant from the City of Portland, in conjunction with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Public Street Plaza Program. The Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association (METBA) is hosting this public space in partnership with Montavilla Farmers Market, which will program the Plaza Thursdays, in addition to its regular market held on Sundays at 7700 SE Stark Street.
The Plaza will also feature live music and other entertainment events throughout the summer. Plaza organizers will post updated information on the METBA events calendar. Visitors can shop at the Montavilla Thursday Night Farmers Market throughout the summer or sit and relax on the shaded seating. All people, families, dogs, and outside food are welcome in the Plaza.
Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the METBA Board.
Tomorrow, July 1st, the Montavilla Public Plaza reopens for its second year at SE 79th Avenue and Stark Street. The public gathering space will feature outdoor furniture and event space for community use. Last year, the space coordinators provided musical-themed programming to activate the area. This time, in a partnership with Montavilla Farmers Market, the Plaza will feature an evening min-market on Thursday nights.
Starting on Thursday, July 7th, five farm and food vendors will set up in the Plaza from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Moorish Roots, Kulfi, Sebastiano’s, and Threshold Brewing & Blending are some of the confirmed participants making an appearance. An assortment of vendors will return each Thursday this summer, with the final evening market held on September 29th.
This mid-week market is possible through a Vibrant Spaces Community Events Activation Fund grant from the City of Portland, in conjunction with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Public Street Plaza Program. As with last year, the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association (METBA) is hosting this public space to encourage outdoor recreation in the center of the neighborhood’s historic downtown area. All people, families, dogs, and outside food are welcome in the Plaza.
Drivers who use SE 79th Avenue should plan an alternate path, as the roadway is closed to through traffic from SE Stark Street to SE Pine Street. Local vehicle access to homes and businesses on the Street is permitted. This year, METBA staff expect the Montavilla Public Plaza to repeat last year’s success, attracting residents and visitors to the area during the warm season. Look for activities to begin in the space next week and continue through September.
Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli is venturing outside the four walls of its storefront at 411 SE 81st Ave. Starting this Friday night,therestaurantwill open Aperitivo Sebastiano within a food cart located in the back parking lot behind the shop. This endeavor joins Sebastiano’s inaugural participation in the Montavilla Farmers Market last Sunday. Both new locations feature unique menu items and serve expanded tastes.
Many restaurants use food trucks to spread out to new locations, but co-owners of Sebastiano’s, Elise and Daniel Gold, are taking a different approach. Their food truck is parked behind the original restaurant, enhancing that location instead of transporting the business elsewhere. “Months ago, having no sense on where things would be at with covid, we came up with the idea of a food cart for summer. As a way to continue to grow but do it outside”, explained Daniel Gold. Traditionally, the deli serves the lunchtime crowd. By adding the food truck, customers can now enjoy a pre-dinner appetizer and drink on select nights. In Italy, an aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet the appetite. This cultural tradition is the concept driving Aperitivo Sebastiano’s menu. Customers can start their night at the cart and then move on to dinner at another Montavilla eatery.
According to Gold, the food truck’s kitchen opens up a host of culinary options for the nighttime menu. “We’re pretty excited to be able to offer more types of food, essentially because now we have a full kitchen. We have fryers, we have a grill, we have four burners, more refrigeration, and the space for a cook to work safely.” The Golds optimized the restaurant’s existing food-prep for a deli operation, making the most out of limited space. Baking and pan-based cooking dominate that workflow as most menu items rely on cured protein ingredients.
Daniel Gold believes that the Italian doughnuts will become a favorite item at the cart, and that is not something that they could have created without the complete kitchen out-back. The food truck’s fryer supports a focus on Sicilian street food, a cuisine that favors fried foods. Beyond sweets, the menu will offer Arancini (stuffed and fried risotto balls), Zeppole, and House-pulled fresh Mozzarella. As the summer progresses, the expanded kitchen will allow for experimentation in the menu. Vegetarian and Vegan options are prime areas that Gold wants to expand on.
Up to this point, Sebastiano’s has offered takeout only, except for reserved group events last summer. Now outdoor seating around the truck lets customers stop in and order food and drinks to enjoy onsite. They will serve wine by the glass, Spritz, Rosato (Italian rose wine), and some nonalcoholic cocktails. The tables will be open during Aperitivo Sebastiano’s hours of 3 PM through 6 PM on Friday and Saturday nights, with post Farmers Market service on Sundays from 2 PM to 5 PM. Customers can also order items to go and bring them over to Threshold Brewing and Montavilla Brew Works seating area.
The collaboration with other Montavilla businesses is core to Sebastiano’s operation. All beer sold there is from local breweries. Sourcing within the neighborhood for foods and beverages is essential to the Golds. That is what brought them to the Montavilla Farmers Market, first as buyers for their seasonal dishes and now as vendors.
Only one weekend in, the farmers market booth has already proven worthwhile for Daniel Gold. “We’re super excited and had an incredible first day at the Montavilla Farmers Market.” Just as with the food truck, some menu items are locations specific. Sebastiano’s staff bake Castelvetrano olive focaccia exclusivly for the farmers market. The market menu items feature favorite Sebastiano’s food like orange marmalade, sweet and savory brioche rolls, and a “tremendous amount” of Sicilian cookies. The Golds sold out within an hour and a half of opening at the market. They are going to double their efforts for next Sunday.
The farmers market project is pure fun for Golds. “It’s really a lovely end of our week to be outside and to be with our community and seeing a bunch of people that we now know,” said Daniel Gold. Sebastiano’s will keep a booth at the market at least through October. That coincides with the end of their food truck lease. At that point, they will reassess and see if customers enjoyed the expanded options.
The Golds started Sebastiano’s at the beginning of the pandemic. That challenge forced the couple to adjust their plans and create new ways of engaging customers. This summer, the Golds and their staff continue to push forward, with new ways to serve residents who are venturing out after an extended stay at home. Stop by behind the shop any post-work-week night for a pre-dinner visit, have lunch at the original shop on Thursday-Saturday, or wave hello at the farmers market. They would love to see you at any of their many places.
Images courtesy of Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli
UPDATED May 10th 2021 – adjusted hours listed in article to reflect a change and corrected spelling of menu item.
Sebastiano’s Deli has decided not to have indoor seating during any phase of Oregon’s reopening. Instead, owners Elise and Daniel Gold are interested in a new approach to serving their hungry customers.
Sebastiano’s launch this month exceeded their expectations. They served over 200 customers in the first ten days. Since opening with pickup service, a clear customer pattern has emerged. Two customer types are prevalent, the lunchtime rush and people buy provisions to take home. As Multnomah County reopened with phased restrictions, inside dining was never going to be an option for Sebastiano’s. “Our space is just too small,” said Daniel Gold.
Gold’s observations about Sebastiano’s customers, and the limits of the space, called for a creative rework of how the restaurant will serve customers. Elise and Daniel Gold realized they would need to operate differently based on the time of day. Starting July 8th, Sebastiano will modify their schedule. From 11 AM to 3 PM, Wednesday through Saturday, they will offer pickup service as they have for the last month. This schedule will fully cover the lunchtime crowd. For those customers, they intend to enhance the lunch menu with “weekly sandwich and salad specials to give people fresh options each week beyond Muffuletta’s. ” said Gold.
After 3 PM, Sebastiano’s will transitions from pickup orders at the shop to home delivery. For $5, they will deliver orders over $50 to local addresses. The delivery area will expand out beyond Montavilla, into the adjacent neighborhoods. The Golds wanted to avoid the big names in third-party delivery services. “We are trying to avoid those [companies]. It’s really a tax everyone else.” Said Daniel Gold. He explained that delivery services charge a substantial percentage of the order’s total. To cover the lost margin paid to third party delivery services, they would have to increase menu prices for all customers. Working with companies like that did not fit what the Golds wanted for Sebastiano’s. Instead, the Golds will do the delivery themselves, and with help from family. Daniel’s cousin, Rachel, will be helping deliver orders over the summer.
Beyond basic delivery options, The Golds will launch an outdoor garden party package. That service is called Sebastiano’s Pop Up. It will deliver all the food and drinks needed for an outdoor party at a customer’s house. The customer needs to have the tables set up, and they will drop off an arrange the food in a yard or driveway.
Sebastiano’s has received OLCC and Healthy Business permits to offer seven tables for outdoor seating. They may consider offering table service on the sidewalk, like many others in Old Town Montavilla have. However, the outdoor dining space is competitive in Montavilla, and the Golds are not sure they want to be just another location trying to keep people distanced. “I really appreciate anyone who feels comfortable eating out right now and any restaurant operator who is comfortable and feels they can do it in a safe way.” Said Gold. However, Daniel Gold feels there are other types of people looking for a dining experience. “For that subset of people who still want to eat good food and still want novel experiences but don’t feel safe going out right now, we’re trying to rise to the occasion and provide them something enjoyable.”
Behind Sebastiano’s is a semi-private courtyard. There, the Golds have constructed a tent and outdoor seating geared towards private events. The Private Happy Hour can be booked for groups to “hang out with their friends in a safe, private, outdoor setting.” said Gold. With only a $200 Food and Drink minimum purchase, the whole menu will be available to the group. Only one group can book the space at a time, between 3 PM to 6 PM. Events can be kid-friendly, and pets are allowed.
The Golds hope this will be a safe and comfortable way for friends, large families, or coworkers to get together. Daniel Gold sees this as an “adapt or die” moment for restaurants. Even with his early success, he knows that they still have to earn each customer’s continued patronage. “We don’t take a single one for granted,” said Gold, talking about Sebastiano’s customers.
Sebastiano’s opening looks different than other businesses reopening efforts. They believe they have found a model that will work for customers and keep everyone safe, regardless of the changes from COVID-19. Some people have mentioned to the Golds that they are waiting for Sebastiano’s full opening before trying them out. The Golds want everyone to know that this is the full Sebastiano’s. They are entirely open and waiting to earn loyal customers.
One of Montavilla’s newest foodie destinations is set to open next month, with some constraints. Sebastiano’s had been scheduled to open two months ago but was delayed due to Oregon’s shutdown. Now they plan to open with a limited schedule, that will expand over time.
Sebastiano’s will be open starting in June, Wednesday Thursday and Friday. Wednesday June 3rd being the first day they are open. Their tentative hours will be 11 AM to 5 PM. However, they may increase those hours by opening earlier in the day. Starting in July, they expect to add Saturdays to their schedule.
In addition to a limited schedule, they will have to modify the customer experience. They will not have in-house seating or allow walk-in customers. Everything will be available for phone or online ordering. Customers can picked up orders at the store, shortly after the order is placed. To facilitate the modified shopping process, a condensed menu will be offered. The menu will be available on Sebastiano’s website sebastianospdx.com or over the phone (503) 841-5905.
Modifying the offerings was a hard choice for the co-owners of Sebastiano’s, Elise and Daniel Gold. “We had looked forward to hosting daily afternoon Aperitivo Hour with wines by the glass, charcuterie and cheese boards, etc. That won’t be happening. ” Wrote Daniel Gold in an email to Montavilla News. However, they are adjusting to the restrictions and exploring new ideas. “We’re now considering developing an Italian wine club exploring unique wines beyond the island of Sicily. We are also going to be stocking more pantry and snack items, coffees, teas, chocolates so the neighborhood can access some of these items without the full Covid supermarket experience.”
Gold went on to explain they are going to repackage some of their canceled offerings for takeout. What they are calling Picnic Packs, will offer charcuterie and cheese boards for take-out or take-home. They hope this will offer customer options to get outside with a readymade picnic, or stay home and enjoy a “social distancing happy hour gathering.”
The Golds have been fortunate to receive some support. Sebastiano’s landlord allowed 60 days rent deferral and added the obligation to the end of the lease term. This “provides some breathing room for May and June.” wrote Daniel Gold. Additionally, Gold was appreciative of his family’s help. “We’ve been relying a lot on very supportive grandparents for childcare to free us up to make progress on the build-out and all the opening preparation.”
All this support has been needed, as there hasn’t been any financial assistance from any government programs, unemployment, or insurance claims for Sebastiano’s. The next wave of support for this new business will need to come from the community, shopping with them when they open.
Summertime looks favorable for Sebastiano’s. They hope to offer outdoor seating, to serve customers who are well distance from one another. Daniel Gold cousin is going to spend her summer in Portland to help around the shop, in the true family business fashion. His cousin may also help launch another of their expansion plans, local deliveries to customers.
Many readers have asked about what is happening with the unopened new businesses in Montavilla. This is just one of those positive stories. Let’s hope Sebastiano’s is just the first of many to open, delayed but still strong.
It has almost been a month of empty streets and closed shops. Even if you are safe and secure during this time, you are looking around at the businesses in the neighborhood and hoping they will survive. There are some programs to help these small businesses but not enough, and certainly they are not timely in providing the help needed. Those programs are for established businesses trying to make it through the forced closures. However, they do not cover establishments that have not opened their doors for the first time. We have many businesses in Montavilla that are mid construction.
The Oregonian has an article detailing the struggle of four restaurants and bars that had all been scheduled to open in Montavilla town. In the article, the owners of White Rabbit, Tinker Tavern, Lazy Susan, and Sebastiano’s all lend their voice to the story of uncertainty around us. No business in Montavilla is immune to the financial hardships being felt right now but the ones that have yet to see their first customer, are proving to be the most vulnerable.
All is not lost for these future landmarks of Montavilla. Some should be able to postpone plans. Others are adjusting the business to fit what is practical right now. Andrew Mace, of Lazy Susan, is quoted in The Oregonian article as being thankful they did not hire staff yet.
Unlike other shops with staff, payroll and unemployment is one burden the new locations in Montavilla are not contending with. There are many established businesses in our area that need cash flow to keep some of their staff employed.
Brian Stafki put together a Google Sheet of Montavilla, and other nearby businesses, that are open or offering services in an alternative form. If you can continue to give them business, please do.
The Montavilla East Tabor Business Association has created a COVID-19 Info and Resources page that has some additional information about its members, during this prolonged shutdown.
It looks like Heartbreaker Neighborhood Kitchen’s temporary closure may be more permanent. Eater Portland has a write up of the future Sebastiano’s Italian deli going into 411 SE 81st Avenue. They will offer prepared food, wines, and specialty pantry items. Sebastiano’s website is not yet live but look for updates at sebastianospdx.com. We will add pictures, when the wraps come off the new space.
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