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July 24th, 2002 Caryn B. Brooks | Miss Dish
 

Goodbye, Doris

     
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GENTLE READERS,
When a beloved Portland restaurant decides to call it quits, fans go through many of the five Kübler-Rossian stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Supporters of the 15-year-old Northeast Portland barbecue institution Doris' Cafe (325 NE Russell St., 287-9249) should brace themselves--owner Rosie Dean tells Miss Dish she's getting out of the game. The place, known for its trademark slogan, "Beef it up, pork it down, but don't chicken out if you want the greatest Bar-B-Q in town," will close in the very near future (she doesn't know when exactly). Dean says she's throwing in the Handi-Wipe for a variety of reasons, but especially because her rent was increased to an amount that won't work for her business. "I'm tired of fighting," she says.

Doris' Cafe (named for Dean's daughter) started humbly, first as a Mexican restaurant, and then, in response to popular demand, as a Southern food haven at a small spot on North Williams Avenue. In 1993, she was beckoned to move to more spacious and elegant digs on Northeast Russell Street by Bob Orians, a man whom she trusted as a developer and business adviser but who later turned out to be a con man (see "With Friends Like This," WW, Nov. 7, 2001). Orians pilfered her rent payments, leaving her in arrears to the building's owner, Edward B. Hart. "That really set me back a lot," she says.

Recently, Dean says, Hart came to her to renegotiate her lease at a much higher rate. "Now the neighborhood is better, and that spot is worth much more," Dean says.

When Miss Dish asked Dean what her loyal customers will do, she says she cares about her customers and she cares about the charity. "There's going to be a lot of hungry people, because I donate a lot of food," she says. Dean says her sons, who work in the restaurant, will probably start a smaller operation on their own.

As for her, Dean says she has no plans to retire but, even though she loves the restaurant business, will probably look for another line of work. "I can't take all the pressure," she says. "It's all a part of the business world that I'm not cut out for. All these games. It's not in me." Dean says she still considers Portland a beautiful city to both work and live in. "I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me," she says. "I've got to move on."

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When Mother's Bistro decided to open up in a spot at Southwest 2nd and Stark considered to be a restaurant black hole, owner Lisa Schroeder hired a feng shui consultant to help overcome the bad juju. Whoever takes over the spot at 1338 NW Hoyt St. left suddenly vacant by the short-lived El Zaguan last week (a note on the door reads, "Due to an emergency we're temporarily closed until further notice," but it's common knowledge that the restaurant is shuttered for good) might consider going the same route. The spot, which first housed Pearl District front-runner Bima and then the dead-on-arrival Terra, is now being bid on. Andrew Sugar, who owns Lush, told Miss Dish that there's some lawyerly wrangling going on over the space, but if it all works out, he will open a restaurant there. "It's not signed, sealed or delivered yet," he says. Sugar says he'd like to place a high-end restaurant there; if this happens, he will let upstairs at Lush become more of a nightclub with some food (he's favoring sushi).

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Miss Dish, you ignorant slut. It wasn't just Julia Child nipping at the sherry on the job.... Last week's reference to John Belushi playing the role of Julia Child on SNL was wrong; it was actually Dan Aykroyd.

 
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