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Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

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Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

From Willamette Week:

http://wweek.com/editorial/3419/10692/

Portland, OR
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1. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

I just recently read that article, too.

Portland is absolutely saturated with really exceptional restaurants and we are so fortunate to be here in the middle of it all!

I think it is important to consider that January is always a slow month in the restaurant industry in Portland. People have spent money over the holidays and they are also in hibernation until the weather improves. The state of our economy is impacting many people as well.

We dine out at different restaurants every week and we see some thriving and others that you can walk right into and get a seat without reservations any night of the week.

With so many wonderful places I always find it surprising when I hear people say that they dine every week at the same places, sometimes frequenting them several times a week. With so many options it is a shame to get stuck in a rut! :-) We definitely live in a great city with incredible diversity in restaurants.

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

Interesting article. Thanks for the link, cattrav. I don't know if we've lost our appetite. I think the problem is that restaurateurs jumped the gun a little in anticipation of demand that hasn't yet happened. With all the expensive, high-rise condo buildings sitting unfinished or mostly empty, who knows when it will. The good ones will survive, though. And I'm doing my best to make sure of that! ;-)

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3. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

Thanks for the link, I hope things get better for the Portland restaurant scene! :)

Oregon Coast
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4. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

Interesting article. One of the signs of a stronger or weaker economy is what people do with their "disposable income" ie; money for entertainment and fun things.

More people are traveling, more people are attending sports events, and more people are eating out.

Take a look at any of the less-expensive restaurants on any day of the week - they are jammed. I'm referring to places such as Applebee's, Claim Jumper, Outback, Chile's ... chains all I realize, but they are very busy and they are making money. Lots of money.

I realize these places are not upscale, trendy, eclectic and so on. But maybe the market for that type of restaurant is saturated. Portland downtown is a relatively small city, nothing on the scale of LA, thankfully. Only the very best of these very small, very expensive restaurants will survive, no matter what the general economy is. Only a certain percentage of the general population visits places like that on a regular basis. (Yes, I know, there are some of you folks on this forum!)

But the great masses of people - the much larger percentage - are not eating there, for various reasons, whether they be cost, amount of food, too pretentious, whatever.

And the bottom line in the restaurant business is that you have got to have customers, lol!

I highly doubt that the "foodie" scene in Portland will disappear, but I do suspect it may require a bit of change and adjustment. People will continue to make decisions with their appetites and pocketbooks.

Buenos Aires...
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5. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

My opinion , having lived in the area of Portland that seemed to spawn a new condo and a new restaurant every week, that high-rented stores and businesses out of the area and increasingly raised prices on everything from kitchen gadgets, to wine, to groceries to rent to a cup of coffee.

And where I ate out almost every night, and most days.

*Greed.

They all had these people coming in from other states who had made a good profit on their home sales, were buying up tiny spaces to live in, spending big on trendy bluehour kind of restaurants and shopping at Babette etc.

But the quality was often lacking..remember Balvo? .

Ten01...beautiful , designed ok, sweet staff, love the pastry chef, but they always have a problem.

And they all charge top dollar.

Sooner or later, people who are not making top dollars are going to stop wasting money on pretentious dinners and will enjoy those little neighborhood places that never fail to please and leave you with change when you go home.

When we left last Spring, there were several apartment buildings, with apts that were about an average of 400 SF...selling for $400-600k and up..

One sold when finished, they owners were going bankrupt.

The restaurants thought all those highrises would provide limitless diners.

So this is my opinion..There are a lot of great restaurants in Portland.

We never expected , coming from New York City, to be given such a great choice..but it isn't NYC..the prices are/were a little too high, there were too many not living up to expectations..

and to end this- I never gave Willamette Week that much credence lol

I think a lot of places will fail and close..look at whatshername with the husband who ran off with the money and the hostess...they were SO good, what went wrong? greed.

Thank you..anyone want my soapbox now? :o)

Portland, Oregon
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6. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

Thanks for the nice thoughts, syrahgirl. :-) But, I think I'm safe in saying that, as often as you're in town, you'll never have to worry about finding a great meal. Are you planning to stop in Portland on your way home? There are a number of great places you haven't been to yet.

Oregon Coast
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7. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

Have any of you seen that commercial (I think it's for Citibank)...starts off with seeing a couple getting to a nice restaurant with voiceover ... I don't have the exact words but close enough:

"...the reservations took weeks to get ... the decor was romantic ... the wine list extensive ... the service superb. And the food was .........tiny!!" (shows a plate being set on the table with a sliver of meat and 3 green beans)

LOL!

Then the couple uses their card to go to a convenience store and stock up on popcorn and chips!

DH and I years ago went to some ultra-fancy restaurant in Long Beach CA and I think it was that place in the commercial, lol! We got a hamburger after dinner, seriously!

The point being, I wonder how many of the Portland restaurants that are in trouble are similar to that commercial?

Buenos Aires...
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8. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

I have no memories of tiny meals at the good places we went to, but things have changed since we were there, they might have cut down on size of portions to save dollars.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

There are places with tiny servings. Clyde Common comes to mind. I love the food there, but some dishes are REALLY tiny. Especially appetizers...now I know that an app is an app....not a meal. LOL!

They really are meant for one person...sharing is tough.

On the other hand, they make a killer whole fish entree (fish selection seasonal) that is huge and a burger and sandwiches are the made for sharing.

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Has Portland Lost Its Insatiable Appetite for Restaurants?

LOL, Mistletoe. Good one!

Yep, visitors will always be able to find a great place to dine...in fact...a new place each time they visit.