We're beginning to get a little batty over here at the cafe (if you haven't been able to tell already). The reason why I say that is because as we head towards our impending closure of this location, having not yet secured a future home for our business, those that are still left working here are committing to working overtime and at full-speed. With that comes loopiness, exhaustion, and at times, dementia. Personally, I've pretty much stopped returning all phone calls and emails (sorry, Friends), I'm feeling considerably fragile and sentimental and I also laugh easily (this is both good and bad).
But as Kyle always says, "Full speed is the only speed worth going." And if we're being honest, it's our only option at this point.
Sometimes though, I think it's important to pause and take a breath. To try and let it all soak in.
The "it" in this case being that according to our lease agreement, tomorrow will be one of the last of eight Sunday brunch services we have left. You have no idea how crazy that is to type, let alone wrap my brain around. Especially when you consider that morale at the cafe has never been higher and that we are experiencing record sales.
I won't lie. Some crazy things are going on in my head; like the fact that it'll be incredibly disappointing when Oregon peach season rolls around and I won't be able to put a French toast special up on the board. In eight more weeks there won't even be a specials board anymore.
At least not for awhile. Mind boggling. For real.
As good as it is to try and grasp all of that, the reality stings. Which means that our moments of reflection on this topic are short. We just keep reminding ourselves that we have to chug along, move forward, and consequently throw ourselves fully in to, and enjoy, what little service we have left at 4823 N. Lombard St. But the impending loss is palpable. Not unlike an awareness of losing a loved one to a terminal disease. We all know it's coming. We're just soaking in these last fleeting moments.
I'm telling you all of this because it certainly helps to talk about it. I think it also helps Evan and I process the facts. You know, all that's happened the past nearly three years, and what we plan on doing differently in the future when it comes to doing business with others, and trusting said business with others.
That said, I wish to make this fact absolutely clear: WE HAVE NO REGRETS.
With every mistake a lesson was learned, and we're likely to make more in the future. We have enjoyed our stay on the Peninsula immensely and continue to pinch ourselves that we actually did it: we opened up the cafe we'd been dreaming about for years, at home, in our own neighborhood, and managed to do so pretty successfully too, I might add. And of course it goes without saying that we couldn't have accomplished any of it without you. Every.Single.One.Of.You. We are blessed. We know this much to be true (which is a lot).
We remain in awe of our employees, all seven of them, who are actually more like family at this point. Most have been with us since (almost) the beginning, and those that are "new" have adapted, and have been adopted by the rest of us. Despite having worked with these people daily for nearly the past three years, we continue to be impressed with their dedication and commitment to our cause. We cannot begin to thank them enough for their patience with us, as we literally had to learn how to become "bosses," as well as their professionalism in treating all of you like you were their neighbors, too. Hell, some of them even are.
Huh. I swear I had a point to this blog post. I believe I was actually going to tell you about tomorrow's brunch menu but I somehow got sidetracked. Well, here's a forewarning: that will probably happen a lot in the posts to follow in the coming weeks. Forgive us.
So, about tomorrow's service; we're running a similar brunch menu to last week's. However, tomorrow we'll feature a new pulled pork sandwich, inspired by one of our most popular and beloved egg-sandwiches of all-time: The Cookout. You may remember this one from past spring seasons. However, tomorrow's special Cookout will feature:
It's a winner. In fact, I'm convinced pulled pork makes anything a winner. *That said, we will also have a vegetarian version of this sandwich because we're cool like that.
As we charge faithfully and feverishly toward an uncertain future, our passion and pleasure to serve food and drink to you lovely people remains as strong as ever. Know this: we will do our damndest to put ourselves in a position where we will be able to keep flipping our cafe sign to "open" each and every day.
P.S. Here's to a game six. GO BLAZERS!
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:24 PM
I'm a little ashamed to admit that it has taken me nearly 28 years on this planet to discover Nutella-Banana Bread.
Well, I can tell you this much: I'm never going back.
I made two loaves of this beautiful banana bread for the kitchen to snack on during our Customer Appreciation Day this past Tuesday and it turned out to be the perfect treat to get us through the crazy rush of friendly faces.
Evan and I finished the leftovers in handfuls on the way home, straight from the loaf pan. It was that good.
We plan on displaying this in a pastry case near you in the future, but for those of you at home please heed this advice: try adding spoonfuls of Nutella to your favorite banana bread recipe. It's decidedly better than chocolate chips.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 5:49 PM
What can we say?
It was a blast.
You were so jazzed Portland, and we were overwhelmed by the response. We were secretly fearing a sluggish turn-out given the fact that the anniversary fell on a Tuesday. But over 200 Messenger egg sandwiches were given away in the first four hours. By the time the clock struck 12:00 we had run out of bread. At that point we flipped the open sign, turned the music up, and hung out with all of you and the few stragglers who missed the sandwiches, but stayed for coffee anyway.
For the most part people were pretty pumped. Granted, some were disappointed that they couldn't get their Flat Tire or their Zoo Bomb. Reactions were all across the board; from handwritten (and/or origami swan) thank-you-notes and tears, to one disgruntled customer telling me that he "won't be back" and that we must "make this shit up as we go," as he stormed off down Lombard St. egg-sandwichless (BTW: I told this "gentleman" to "have a nice day").
So we just want to say thank you. We had a great day and we are so pleased so many of you came to celebrate. Without your help our business would not have survived the flood last year. We're aware we really do have the greatest customers in the world. More importantly, you are good people and tremendous friends.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:20 PM
As I prepare to lay down for the evening, my mind is racing, and I can't believe it's been one year since I woke up on my day off (back when we were CLOSED on Mondays) and went to the cafe to make myself some coffee, only to discover that the entire place was full of water.
Thank goodness that this time around the cafe will be full of you. In honor of the first anniversary of The Great Spring Flood of '09, and all that you have done to help aid in our "drying out," this Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, we will celebrate our first ever Customer Appreciation Day!
How do we intend to celebrate? By giving away free Messenger (and veggie Messenger) egg sandwiches of course. Go ahead and plan an excuse for why you will be late to work, heck, call in sick, or take the day off. Do whatever it takes so that you are able to visit the cafe and enjoy an egg sandwich on us.
You deserve it Portland.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:59 PM
We will also be featuring a special fried egg sandwich tomorrow:
Fried Egg and Pulled Pork Sandwich
with house-made sriracha BBQ sauce, cheddar and pickled red onion, served with green apple-slaw and pickles
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:04 PM
Yet another public service announcement to remind you that this coming Tuesday, the twentieth day of April, two thousand and ten, is...
That's right folks, this coming Tuesday marks one year to the day since the cafe was under water. Thanks to YOU amazing people we are still standing, heads above water, here today. And what better way to celebrate our gratitude for you, than to offer you your favorite sandwich, for free!
Pending confirmation of a much larger than normal bread order from Fleur de Lis Bakery, we plan to give away free Messenger fried egg sandwiches (and Messengers with tempeh bacon) beginning at 8:00am this Tuesday, April 20th. We plan to do this until our normal closing hours, or until we run out of bread. In addition to the free egg sandwiches we will be offering a plethora of assorted baked goods for sale, both sweet and savory alike, as well as coffee, espresso, and other beverages.
Join us alone, come with friends, tell your neighbor. Help us spread the love Portland!
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:09 PM
Spring has arrived, and while the days seem much longer than they were just a short time ago, there remains a continuing trend in which we find ourselves struggling to make it all happen. No doubt, it's people like those I am about to mention, that give us the courage and inspiration to go out and make the most of every day.
Liam. Our good friend Liam will be turning six years old this month. This summer Liam's parents are going to remodel their bathroom so that Liam may gain further independence in spite of his Spinal Muscular Atrophy disorder. In order to help pay for the cost of this remodel, Liam's parents have set up a website in which people like you and I can make donations to help aid in their effort (to learn more, please click on the above link).
From our time spent hanging out with the little guy, I can say that he is truly one of a kind, and very deserving of our help. To this day I'm confident that he has consumed more "maple & bacon" ice cream than any customer in the history of our cafe. Not bad for a guy who was only 3 years old when we first opened our doors. This is a direct and easy way to change the lives of deserving people for the better. We are grateful for your consideration in assisting our friends.
Lilikoi. Portland just got a hell of a lot tastier. Friends, it gives me so, SO much joy to announce to you all that our good friends Dekin and Veth will now be serving food to the general public, from a newly occupied space on North Killingsworth St. This past Saturday we were lucky to be able to attend a soft opening party, in which we got to taste various items that they will begin selling out of their shop this coming Wednesday. Think: cream cheese and guava jelly rolls, drunken noodles, and pulled pork sandwiches on homemade Hawaiian sweet bread. Hungry?
I first met Dekin a few years back when we both were working at New Seasons Market. He was my boss in the online shopping department, and we quickly formed a friendship based around a mutual love for teasing coworkers, pick-up basketball, and all things culinary. If you've dined at the cafe on a weekend these past few years, Dekin has more than likely prepared your breakfast. Expertly, I might add. We have been so lucky to have had Dekin's help in the kitchen these past two and a half years. Those who have had the pleasure of cooking with him marvel at his speed and precision, especially when one considers the fact that he never even appears to break a sweat. North Portland is lucky that he and Veth have chosen to open up shop in our quadrant.
Their hours this week are Wednesday through Friday, from 5:00pm to 10:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00am to 9:00pm.
1324 N Killingsworth St.
Portland, Oregon 97217
We received word from the nice people at Reading Local: Portland that their first fundraising event, which raised over $1,000 for Haiti, went off without a hitch. We are thrilled to have been able to team up with such crafty folks. Keep up the great work!
Jam. We have recently discovered that the most affordable way for us to ship jam around the country is to wrap a single jar of jam in bubble wrap and stuff into a flat rate envelope, which will ship for $4.75. Not bad, eh? Keep those jam orders rolling in folks. We also took it upon ourselves to check with the USDA and the Multnomah County Department of Environmental Health just to make sure we are in compliance with all local, state, and federal food safety laws. Hey, your well being is of our utmost concern. Turns out all is kosher, and we'll continue to jam to our heart's content.
Dylan. Between school, canine training, and starting his own clothing brand, Dylan has made some time to return to the cafe and cook for you in the next coming weeks. We are thrilled to have his help, and even more excited to see all of his recent ideas coming into successful fruition. Dylan's company Gear designs and manufactures clothing for the urban cyclist. Oh, and did I mention he has somehow figured out a way to make everything right here in Portland? Are you f*&$%ing kidding me? Does anyone have the slightest idea of how insanely difficult that is?
Their local short is currently available at multiple Bike Gallery locations throughout the city.
Oh, and last but not least, in recognition of you, our customer, we are currently preparing for a "Customer Appreciation Day," a day devoted to giving away free "Messenger" fried egg sandwiches. Prepare to have your senses assaulted in the coming days as we announce, and re-announce the exact date and time of the event. Feel free to anticipate a party.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:33 PM
I love receiving snail mail. I know, I know, who doesn't? But when a thoughtful note is accompanied by a lovely, mouth-watering cookbook, now we're talking about something very special.
Momofuku Noodle Bar was one of the first places my sister took us in NYC many years ago, and since then has remained an important stop for family to reconnect over steaming bowls of brussels sprouts with kimchi and bacon. So you can imagine my surprise and gratitude when I opened a package up from my much-missed, east-coast-living sister containing the words and recipes of the one and only David Chang. More importantly was the note attached, reminding me I am one lucky girl to have a sister who knows me so thoroughly, and whose own love for food rivals my own.
So thanks, Sister. You're the best. I am now poaching eggs like a true professional and thinking of you as a slurp my ramen out on the West coast.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:05 AM
Long before we ever started a breakfast cafe, Evan and I were addicted to the breakfast experience. We loved nothing more than casually arising, and waking up next to one another over hot plates of food, which often ended up supplementing the majority of the food we'd consume for the rest of the day. More than dinner, Evan and I cherished the opportunity to spend time together chatting in the morning, exchanging tidbits about our upcoming day or from the newspaper over salty skins of potatoes and sweet slurps of orange juice.
Nowadays it seems nearly impossible for us to take in breakfast. If we're working service at the cafe it'll be nearly 3pm before we even consider sneaking in a bite of food, relying heavily on a steady intake of caffeine from the moment we awake. I can't say I'm a huge fan of this habit because like I mentioned, Evan and I absolutely love breakfast. And quite honestly, I miss spending that time with him. Since opening a breakfast cafe, dinner is now the meal we spend together. Which has certainly had it's perks over the past three years. We now have plenty of places to bring friends and family when they come in to town and we want to show off our city's impressive dining scene. We've found that dinner in Portland provides the easiest opportunity to accomplish this. But breakfast. What can I say? It's a special time for us, whether we're eating the meal together or dishing it up for others. Suffice to say our life revolves around it.
I've heard many people scoff at the breakfast scene wondering why someone would pay for the meal that is most easily prepared at home? It doesn't get simpler than eggs, potatoes, and toast. Right?
My take on the notion (you know you can trust me): Finding a kitchen, home, or otherwise that consistently respects the delicacy of an egg for example, is actually harder than one might think. Grisly, burnt eggs abound in the breakfast scene, and as a place that touts itself as an "egg sandwich house", and cooks 1000+ eggs/week, we have experienced just how difficult it can be to pass that respect and knowledge on to everyone who attempts to cook one.
Besides, there is also something to be said about breakfast and its simplicity, not to mention the intimacy it can provide between two diners. I don't know about you, but I consider myself to be at my most fragile when I'm first coming to in the morning, and having the ability to begin my day with the man I love, dunking bits of buttered toast into thick black coffee, certainly takes the edge off when it comes to facing the rest of my day.
When I'm at work I'm often asked where we like to eat breakfast when we travel outside the confines of our own menu. Naturally, we have our favorites around town. Here are a few we hold near and dear to our hearts, and the dishes we feast on during that special time of day.
2508 Southeast Clinton Street
Portland, OR 97202-1239
Addicted to: black coffee, grapefruit mimosa, seasonal breakfast bord, Broder club, aebelskivers
1951 West Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97209-1918
3808 North Williams Avenue
in the Hub Building
Portland, OR 97227
Addicted to: black coffee, pork cutlets, toast & jam, the house bacon burger
1101 Southeast Division Street
Portland, OR 97202
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:40 PM
of being a cafe owner is getting really amazing feedback from customers. Take this one for example:
We couldn't agree more, Ella. Red IS the perfect color for a bike.
Oh, and personalized fruit garnishes: Undoubtedly another perk. (Thank you, Logan.)
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:35 AM
Just in case you are wondering if there is some place else you should try for Easter brunch, click on the image below to view our Easter menu.
I think you'll be hard pressed to find another place in town with an R. Kelly cocktail. We just want to hear you echo, Portland:
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:09 PM
Evan's (Sunday) Shift Meal
Oregon albacore tuna salad, lemon-herb mayo, farmhouse relish, American cheese and pickled red onions grilled on challah bread
What you see above is a typical shift meal for Evan come late Sunday afternoon. And some days, when he's really hungry, he adds thick slices of bacon to this sandwich.
Just ask us for the "Lower East Side Tuna Melt." We'll catch your drift.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:29 PM
This past Monday evening we celebrated Seder dinner with our family. We read from the Haggadah, and feasted over matzot, and soaked in every ounce of family-time we could. As we have gotten older, and our lives have filled with more obligations and responsibilities, we are beginning to cherish these seemingly fleeting moments of indulgence. We now know that you spend holidays with your family members because it may be the only time you have to see one another. In other words, your parents' house may be the only place where it's acceptable to take your shoes off in the living room, eat handfuls of M&Ms from a huge bowl, and tease your nearest and dearest. Just so you know, our family is as crazy as the next, but there is something to be said about the comfort and familiarity that only family can provide.
Evan's maternal side started an amazing family tradition many, many years ago. Attendees of the family's passover celebration would write something, anything, down on the back of their name card with the year. The cards were then set aside, only to be revisited on each new year's passover dinner. For example, Evan's grandfather's collection of name cards has his signature, along with the date, dating back to the late 1930's.
We continue the tradition today. After we eat an incredible spread, usually hosted by one of the Durkheimer gals, we go around the room and flip over our name cards to start writing down this year's observation. Inevitably we also reread previous ones, and rehash the old memories sparked by years of thoughtful documentation. It's one of the things I love most about this meal. I love being part of this tradition and it's one we look forward to honoring for years to come.
I thought I'd share some of Evan's just for fun:
"I am probably going to go on a date soon with a girl whoose (sic) initials are G.G."
(I'd like to point out that at some point he tried to cross out the words "date," "girl," and "G.G.")
"I'm sitting down hoping NC will win the final four. I got a rat. I'm 11 and 5'2."
"UCLA won final 4. I'm 6 ft. Kevin brought Erica."
(I'd like to point out that "Kevin", Evan's cousin, is now married to "Erica." Which is also documented in his '99 observation: "They got engaged.")
In '99 Evan also mentions college visits, in '04 he alludes to a trip to far away places with a girl he loves, and in '06 questions the fate of "Green and Green," our booth at the Portland Farmers Market, and eventually, he gets to the part about the creation of what is now Little Red Bike Cafe.
Needless to say, Evan's name cards are some of my favorite to read.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:47 PM