Rocket Empire Machine is moving ahead with its planned opening at 6935 NE Glisan Street. Four of the five available restaurant spaces are rented, and the fifth space has two prospective tenants looking at it. Exterior construction is near completion, with only the outdoor seating area reamining. Next week, they will turn over the spaces to the tenants and they can start their individual buildouts.
The scheduled opening of this project was uncertain. The effect of Oregon’s stay at home order has slowed down or canceled many retail developments across Portland. However, Rocket Empire Machine looks to have stayed on track. It achieved this by making a few key compromises with the tenants. As well as having an advantage due to the type of affordable retail spaces they offer. Restaurants within Rocket Empire Machine are “designed for takeout and delivery” said Anna Mackay, Director of Development at Guerrilla Development.
Mackay went on to explain that the design of the building should lend itself exceptionally well to post pandemic dining, even before the restrictions are lifted. The building is designed with separate kitchens that share common seating. Although the shared amenities are will remain available, takeout customers will likely be the most common patrons in the near future.
Advantageous design alone was not enough to open this project. Three weeks ago Mackay met with the signed tenants to reaffirm their commitment to opening and seek ways to assist them. At that meeting, they agreed on lower rental rates and adopt a moratorium on collecting full rent, until Oregon’s restaurant restrictions have been lifted. Mackay said that the business owners knew the neighborhood was looking forward to their opening, and that influenced the commitment to continue with their plans.
Van Havig and Ben Love, of Gigantic Brewing Company, had already announced the opening of their Gigantic Satellite taproom at this location. In addition, Jessica Woods will be opening a second location of her Pie Spot bakery and cafe. Tierra Del Sol, by Amalia Sierra, is opening up this location to compliment their existing catering business. Khadro Abdi’s Alle Amin is relocating, from further up Glisan.
Alle Amin relocation, highlights the unique element of Rocket Empire Machine’s model. One space in the building is reserved for a recipient of a “non-displacement” benefit. The goal of this benefit is to ensure that local businesses are not forced out, as our area continues to improve. Recipient businesses will receive fixed rental rates that will allow for the business to grow. Khadro Abdi faced rent increases that jeopardized the viability of the restaurant. Relocating here, will ensure Alle Amin can continue to server the neighborhood, even as other rents increase.
With the Common spaces at Rocket Empire Machine nearing completion and tenants starting work on their space, expect to see increased activity at the site. If the tenants have smooth buildouts “we could see soft opening as soon as June.” Mackay said. That will still allow for many good weather days to drop in and pick up something from our new eatery options.