"I'd Rather Be Bowling."

We're becoming regular bowlers.

This fact has intimidated some (to the extent that they're scared to come join us, despite our insistent invites).

Please accept this photograph as a peace offering. What you see pictured above is the perfect representation of what you can expect on Tuesday nights if you come join us: pitchers of beer, chocolate chip cookies*, and flannel.

What's not to love?

*okay, so Matt Higgins only supplied cookies once, thus they cannot be guaranteed, but we do mange to provide beer on every occasion. For further clarification, flannel clothing is optional.


"I Left My Heart on Lombard" Project

"Where's the candy?"

This is the all-too-familiar question exiting the mouths of children at the cafe recently.

You see, there is now a birdhouse where the Dum-Dum sucker dispenser used to live. But not just any birdhouse; this particular birdhouse, designed by the artistic hands of one Kyle Simmons, holds memories. It is a special birdhouse, indeed.

As I type this, there are twenty-seven days left at 4823 N. Lombard St. As such, we are attempting to collect as many memories of the Little Red Bike Cafe as we can. Taking yet another nod from our friends and muses over at the H&H, we have set up this birdhouse so that customers and friends may share a remembrance with us. After three years of dolling out free suckers, we have replaced this habit by asking for something in return. We have set out a pad of paper with a pen next to the birdhouse, and asked participants to leave us with a memory.

To be honest, it's a little like Christmas as we watch the box fill up with the thoughts and words of our friends, and challenge ourselves not to prematurely peek. That's right, we are trying not to look at them until the end. Kyle and I (of course) are the worst at this. You will often see us sneaking in glances after our shift, while also attempting secrecy in the manner, not letting anyone in on what we've seen, or onto the fact that we've been peeking in the first place. Understandably, this is a bittersweet process. My heart nearly broke into three irreparable pieces after it went through one particular customer's tally of ten Little Red Bike Cafe moments, each one a precious milestone in and of itself. That one I had to share with the others working. At that moment it stood as a testament to their greatness, and our accomplishments as a staff and family. Evan and I couldn't be prouder, or ask them for any more than they've already offered.

The box has caught MANY off guard, not just the little ones who are jonesing for their sugar fix. We have realized that in the spirit of trying to maintain a professional attitude at work by not discussing the ongoing turmoil with our landlady, we have managed to be a bit "too professional" by neglecting to inform some of our patrons, many regulars, about the inevitability of our impending departure. Based on what we've learned over the last week, I'd say that a majority of the people who routinely visit our cafe do not visit our blog on a regular basis. Further, many regulars were surprised to hear of the fact we even had a blog. That said, when news of our departure spread at the cafe, via this box, we all suddenly had some explaining to do. There are loads of regulars who claim to have had "literally no idea." They say this with force, drawing out the word, like this:

"What the fuck?!? I had no fucking iiddeeeaaaa. This is nuts!"

Or some say:

"What do you MEAN you're closing?" (Like we have lost our ever-loving-minds)

"Where and when are you reopening!?!" (We sure would like to an answer to this one too)

"This sucks! We just bought a house over here BECAUSE OF YOU! Where are we going to eat now?" (Funny thing is, we live here too. Consider us in the same boat)

These are just a few of the responses we've received. Understandably, those who don't know the (hi)story of the flood and about the many reasons behind our premature exit, cannot possibly comprehend why we would ever leave our home on the Peninsula. From the outside, we appear to be a successful and thriving cafe doing business in a unique and budding (not to mention under-served) community. But you Blog Readers know better than this. You have nursed us along this journey, through our ups and downs, and have understood there is much more to any and every surface. That is partially why we have this blog, because we believe that it's important to share the story behind the journey, our story, that is to say. The worthwhile bits at least.

In full disclosure, I'm getting a little tired of people informing us about how inconvenient this move is for them. Further, they don't really seem to care and/or understand when I try to make them aware of the fact that this move is extremely inconvenient for many; including the eight people who have stuck by us during this difficult time, still pouring their hearts and souls into working shifts at the cafe, even when we know we're nearing the end.

But I get it. If anything, as a north Portland resident myself, I concur that losing this community spot in our neighborhood is a shameful and significant blow, something that the people should be made aware of and upset about. We worked our asses off to create a desirable space in our own neighborhood, and we were fortunate enough to be welcomed into said neighborhood with open arms. Undeniably, magic happened at that moment, a beautiful exchange of give and take, and we will miss operating there and nurturing that partnership terribly.

Upon learning of our debacle, we've had many unbelievably kind offers from our LRBC friends and neighbors. All sorts of people coming out of the woodwork to tell us they will "walk through fire for LRBC." Many have asked our permission to write letters to the local Neighborhood Business Association, newspaper, and/or to the landlord; offered us up the kitchens in their homes and grills in their backyards in the meantime; and have gotten in touch with reporters attempting to dig up more dirt on the story. This has put Evan and I in an uncomfortable situation, for as much as we would like to "expose the truth," we recognize that very little will come from doing so, mostly just the short-lived satisfaction of getting back at somebody who has wronged you. I just want people to know that your offers and gestures have not gone unnoticed. I also want to clarify that we feel we have done everything in our power, particularly in the last two months, to come to some sort of reconciliation with the property owner. The fact of the matter is that the damage has been done, both emotionally and financially, and there are too many hurt feelings and unreasonable requests to sort through.

While we have tried to be respectful about not disclosing too much information regarding the reasons behind our departure, I need to make a few points very clear for those of you who have decided (or felt left) to come to your own conclusions:

1. We have NEVER, as is in NEVER-EVER been late paying our bills at the cafe, and furthermore, should be considered nothing less than reliable, responsible, and professional tenants.
2. We are not QUITTING this business due to burn-out, nor are we just walking away and abandoning our 'hood.
3. We love this neighborhood and ultimately know we will return doing business here somehow, someway.
4. We would stay if we felt we could. Please know that and never doubt it.

But that is not all. In conjunction with the telling of this cafe's story and the "I Left My Heart on Lombard" project, here are some of Evan's and my favorite Little Red Bike Cafe memories we'd like to share with everyone:

1. Feeding Hanna Hatfield, on her first birthday, her first ice cream ever. The flavor was honey-cardamom, because the vanilla just wouldn't cut it.

2. Watching several couples (five that we know of so far) initiate and find their true love at/because of/over egg sandwiches at the cafe. Sometimes as a result, the course of people's lives has been permanently altered. You know who you are (Hi Brian & Julia). We find this, and the very small role we played in making this twist of fate possible, absolutely mind blowing.

3. The man supporting the cause by volunteering his time to pick up garbage on Lombard St. He refuses to be paid, even when we try to bribe him with coffee and sweets.

4. LRBC's 1st anniversary and karaoke-night party at The Alibi. Frank Sinatra, pupu platters, and the LRBC crew in all of its faded glory. Need I say more?

5. The "Tulip Tree" and its magenta bulbs bursting come Springtime, outside the cafe kitchen's window.

6. The smell of bacon sizzling and onions caramelizing wafting down Lombard.

7. Having access to meeting so many new faces and friends, and running into them: riding bikes, walking the dogs, making color copies, drinking beers, buying eggs, on the Bluff, eating tacos, washing cars, etc. This could also be retitled: "North Portland is Small" or "Six Degrees of Little Red Bike Cafe."

8. Brunches, hugs and wisdom from the one and only Jonlyn.

9. Waiting and watching out the window for the arrival of Courier Coffee by bike (and the smile that brings every.single.time)

10. Accessibility of espresso: when we want it, how we want it, and just like that.

11. Personal press highlights/milestones include: winning "Best Restaurant Blog" (The Oregonian) and "Best French Toast" (Portland Monthly), and being written up in Gourmet. We also really dug the couple of pieces by The Beacon.

12. Riding the tandem to work. Never got old.

13. Serving local celebrities. Like Portland's mayor, Sam Adams, for the first time. Which was almost as cool as the first time serving members of the Decemberists. Which was a close second to serving the rock-stars in the food industry like top chefs John Gorham, Tommy Habetz, and Troy MacLarty. Which ultimately doesn't compare to the joy and satisfaction of serving our community and neighbors on a routine basis. We became very aware that our little cafe was more than just a blurb as "this week's hot spot," but served as, more importantly, a safe location for friends, families, teachers, and community members to gather, converse, and congregate. We are mindful of the fact that our work is satisfying at the end of the day for that reason.

14. Witnessing birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, daddy-dates, and many of life's private moments. I feel honored that we created a space that was considered enough of a sanctuary to share these times with your loved ones. Thank you for letting us in on those times. These "behind the scene" glimpses into your lives made my heart ache in the best of ways.

15. Chalice-sized Bloody Marys on Thursdays and Saturdays for our fellow regular cats (and heroes) in the coffee industry. Hats off to Sterling Coffee Roasters, Coffeehouse NW, and Barista. We love you guys. Probably more than we should, and more than that which makes sense given we are "competition." (HA! That which we cannot achieve from behind the espresso bar shall be accomplished henceforth on the bowling lanes. See you next Tuesday!)

There's fifteen to start. More to come.

Thank you Portland, for making us feel like more than "just a coffee shop."

P.S. The Dum Dums have actually just been relocated to behind the counter. If you need one, please ask!


Cake for Breakfast

Today I was moved by an experience I had with a man who came to visit us for breakfast.

He told me he had recently eaten some food that hadn't agreed with his system, and that rather than take a risk on getting another upset stomach on traditional breakfast fare, he would like to eat a piece of banana cake for breakfast.

My mom's banana cake to be more specific (a recipe she has mastered, guarded, and cultivated with much love over the last year to be even more specific).

Fortunately today was Sunday and Mom was working at the cafe. This gave me an opportunity to scurry into the back after I rang him up in order to share the delightful story with her, knowing it would make her day, just as it had mine.

It didn't hurt when he later told me, after he'd eaten most of the generous slice, that he considered the cake to be "life changing."

The topper and my most favorite part about this story?

He made sure to relay the same message to the woman who actually baked the cake (and I swear, the smile didn't leave her face for the rest of the day).

To the Man Who Eats Cake for Breakfast: Thank you. This is a cherished memory in my collection.


Heads Up

Our most recent egg sandwich special, and a permanent addition to the "secret menu," The Fabiola: fried egg, house chorizo, white cheddar, and avocado on grilled ciabatta

This is a public service announcement to remind y'all that pending some sort of last minute miracle, we're down to the final month in this chapter of the LRBC saga. Given the impending closure, we will likely be forced to close the kitchen about a week before we shut the door to 4823 N. Lombard Street for the last time. Otherwise we're sure to find ourselves knee deep in caramelized onions, pasilla aioli, and the like come clean up time. So be sure to stop by when you can. We'll be there.

Same bike time. Same bike channel.

On a side note, we just got to say, "Here's to you North Portland." Just when we thought we couldn't be more madly in love, you always seem to find a way to pull us in deeper. Thank you for the memories. Let's keep making new ones while we still can.


We May Have a Winner

Over the past five months we have consumed approximately eighteen burgers. Between the two of us, that is to say. Which I somehow feel is better than eating thirty-six (that would be the former vegetarian in me speaking--while the former vegan in me is cussing us both out for being so "fucking naive and hypocritical").

The reason why I'm bringing this up is because today we happened to consume one of the best burgers to date. This burger is memorable. The marriage of flavors between the juicy Highland Oak beef patty, provolone cheese, thyme-vinegar red onions and house-made black pepper aioli is what turned this date into more than a one night stand.

It didn't hurt that Kevin was manning the grill this afternoon. Kevin serves up Italian street food with a NW spin, and in-between the hail storm, sunshine, slosh, and rainbow spun, cloud-flooded skies today, we got to hear about the success of the Mississippi cart, sample some new cheese puffs in the works (because he just "had to do something with all of those egg whites left over from making the aiolis from scratch"), and even got to schemeing about possible future collaborations together.

Ahh, to be a North Portlander and soon-to-be-unemployed. This should get interesting.

Back to the burger at Garden State. Kevin served it up in a basket with a little house-made giardiniera, or Italian pickles. Just as we sat to eat we were graced by the one and only Kyle "Hustle" Simmons, who happened to be breezing through the Mississippi Marketplace on his way home from sampling 'spro and visiting friends at Public Domain and going to class at PSU. Kyle decided to stay and catch a bite with us, and we were able to provide him with a little shelter from the storm by giving him a ride back home during the storm.

The combination of food, the presence of our friend, and the whirlwind Portland springtime weather rocked our afternoon, assuring us that we were at the right place at precisely the right time.

To those of you who have been on a burger-quest of your own (and I know you're out there; I've met you and/or read about you): Try this burger. It's worth every magical bite.

Garden State Food Cart
4237 N. Mississippi and Skidmore
Portland, OR 97217
Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm; Sunday, 12-5pm


Dr.'s Orders

Sister prescribed peonies.

Fresh ones, strategically placed by the bedside so that they're the first things I see in the morning.

I decided to follow her orders.

There were also two other essential "must-haves" from our local farmers' market this afternoon:
Olympic Provision's Andaluz chorizo and a BYOB (growler) of Captured by Porches' IPA.

We spent a total of $26 for this prescription. Waaaaaay better than any of that Pfizer sh*t.


Here's Looking at You

(Our Labor of Love makes us look this good)

Dear Blog Reader,
I am feeling particularly emotional nostalgic today.

Our family, both personally and professionally, has experienced an unusual amount of turbulence lately. And because of this, I'm feeling wistful.

I wish I could even begin to go into detail. If I did it would mean two significant things:

1. I had the time
2. Things weren't all that bad

But I'll be honest; despite this lovely sunshine-filled day, that alerted me to its impending presence at first light and beckoned me all day to succumb to a state of internal bliss, I was feeling glum enough at 6am to call it a day.

It was one of those days, where you just want to pull the covers up over your head, close your eyes, and be granted the opportunity to start all over.

I eventually got to work only to receive more impacting news, that which sent my heart, and head, into a tail spin.

It is times like these where I am thankful to have a partner. Grateful even that this man is my best friend, business associate, and husband.

Because some stuff you just can't explain; some stuff just has to be understood without explanation, and in my case, thankfully, Evan gets it. All of it.

It can be a look, a gesture, a sigh, it doesn't matter. By then he already knows. He is already processing for me, and trying to make things right and/or better for the sake of Us. For the sake of our family, both personally and professionally. These are the moments where I lunge at the opportunity to wrap my arms around this man, blindly follow his lead, and never let go.

Dear City of Portland,
I am falling more in love with you by the second. Which means I am experiencing the most intense emotions of both love and hate simultaneously, wondering where it is that I fit into your life, and how we can possibly move forward. From your river and tree-lined banks, forested hillsides and parks, to your cosmopolitan flare yet compulsively friendly nature. It goes without saying: I am hooked.

We have known each other for almost twenty-eight years, and lived together for twenty-three of those. I would argue that most of them have been good, even great. But I have to be honest and tell you that I am struggling to understand and/or picture our future together.

That is not to say I don't want to make things work.

I am just trying to be realistic when it comes to planning my future...with or without you.

Please give me a sign that we're heading in the right direction. I only want what's best for the both of us.

Dear Memory Wall (located behind the hand-washing sink at the cafe on North Lombard St.),
It breaks my heart that you're literally falling apart.

We have had some wonderful moments over the years: witty comments and memorable customer orders, keepsake thank you cards and wedding menus, photos of basketball tournaments and putt putt golf parties, school portraits, party invitations and Polaroids.

It seems that every morning when I arrive at the cafe, yet another piece of you has fallen victim to gravity. I feel as though I am constantly having to re-attach tape to your coffee-stained-edges in order to put you back together again. I'm not entirely sure if this is really due to a lack of adhesive, or if you already suspect what's coming; the fact that in six weeks you will no longer exist.

Not to say the memories will be forgotten. Never. But I am asking you, from the bottom of my heart, if you could just try to keep it together for the next six weeks.

'Cause it's not over. Not yet anyways. We still have a couple of things left in store for not only you, but for all the patrons of 4823 N. Lombard St.

In other words, despite the ticking clock, there are still memories to be made.


The Haps:

(AKA "What the hell just happened to the last month/what's new with us:")

1. We've been meeting with a lot of broker(s)/contractor(s)/architect(s)/property managers/property owners lately in our ever-lasting search for a new home for our business. Our minds are spinning and overflowing with the endless possibilities as we strategically plan our next move.

2. We may or may not have perfected the Huevos recipe (TBD).

3. LaLa Simone Rockefeller Weinstein, our beloved Frenchie, turned one today.

4. After an amazing ten year run, our muses at the Half & Half have decided to close their doors in order to continue life's journey. Their deviled eggs, espresso, humor and authenticity will be sorely missed not just by us, but by the entire city. Thank you H&H. For Everything.

5. Locally grown produce has been the star at the farmers' markets.

6. Once again, Forest Park has proven to be our family's sanctuary.

7. Inspired by these guys, we're founding a Portland Inter-Coffee House-Bowling League (please let either party know if you're interested). Though green, the LRBC team is ready and raring to go!


What's new with you?


A Night Off

It has confirmed by many that we have ALL been very busy. In other words, everyone's plate has been FULL. Morethanfull.

It has been confirmed by some that this may or may not have something to do with Mercury being in retrograde (I'll leave that up to you).

Regardless, it was Joel of Courier Coffee who came up with the idea; the idea to invite a bunch of industry people together for a dinner party at his house and challenge them to not discuss work for the entire night. He taunted us with the idea of kicking off our shoes, relaxing by candlelight and vinyl, and toasting to the opportunity of sharing a meal with one another. The understanding being that we don't devote enough time to doing these sorts of things normally for one reason or another.

It was a random Tuesday evening. We ate snap peas and radishes dipped in sundried tomato pesto; bolognese and mushrooms; white asparagus on green asparagus soup served in quaint coffee cups. Dinner was served at 10:00pm and invitees included a Boston terrier named Rufus who sported nothing less than a technicolor jacket.

I, for one, was guilty of breaking the golden rule, and found myself discussing work on more than one occasion. But amongst this group, the talk wasn't serious or heavy. Rather, we were all happily acknowledging the opportunity to get away from our establishments and grateful for our friend who brought us together for an evening of escape. Times like these is when I am able to confirm the fact that yes, I am human, and yes, my life is greatly enriched by the knowledge, humor, and company of others. This is a good reminder to have in this business, where all too often you can get caught up in the unimportant things.

So "Hear! Hear!" to Joel Domreis for making it happen. And by "it" we mean ALL of it. Best of luck Sir in your future endeavours. We're eagerly anticipating future developments in both our social and professional relationships. Thanks for reminding us that they are equally important and NOT mutually exclusive.


Match Made in Heaven?

Dove Vivi's Vegan Corn Cashew...with an LRBC "Zoo Bomb" egg! Customized by Kyle "Hustle" Simmons, 4/28/2010

After seeing a leftover Dove Vivi box that his bosses had consumed last Saturday during a post service prep session, Kyle decided to make a point to bring some leftover Dove Vivi pizza to work so that he could enjoy a slice of breakfast pizza by adding an egg and some melted jack cheese to his vegan corn-cashew pizza. The result was most epic, bordering on life changing. We all joked that this creation was the love child of Dove Vivi and Little Red Bike Cafe.

Today, the kind folks at Dove came through in the clutch yet again, by serving us our first meal of the day, at 5:00pm. Even though we wake up in the wee hours of the morning, and cook breakfast for more than a few folks throughout the course of the day, we often neglect to eat breakfast ourselves until the work day is over. Today was one of those days. And on a day like today there was no better place to eat breakfast than Dove Vivi, where we were even able to feast on some bacon and eggs courtesy of the return of the "B.E.A.T." pizza special (Bacon, Egg, Arugula, and Tomato.

To our friends at Dove Vivi: Thanks for breakfast. It is no wonder that most of our "date nights" are spent with you. We feel so grateful having the opportunity to nourish ourselves within your walls.