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Restaurant of the Week: Shulas

Tenderloin with a side order of touchdowns

Celebrity restaurants are a dicey proposition. Planet Hollywood, Fashion Cafe … they've closed as fast as they opened. Even Michael Jordan's steakhouse couldn't make a go of it in Chicago.

But it's maybe no surprise that one success story is the work of Don Shula -as the winningest NFL coach in history, he's a guy who knows how to make things work.

In town earlier this week for the grand opening of his newest restaurant at the Portland Marriott City Center on Southwest Broadway, the longtime coach of the Miami Dolphins sat for a chat in the clubby lounge of his 27th namesake.

The wall was covered with painted game balls from the Dolphins' 1972 undefeated season, but he was more interested in the Pittsburgh Steelers playing the Jacksonville Jaguars game on the flat-screen TV.

Shula tries to visit all of his properties at least once a year, but the hands-on management is done by son Dave, former coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

'Dave's really done a great job making it the kind of place I want to associate with,' he says.

The restaurant business is notoriously tough, and Don Shula sees parallels between his two careers: 'It's about hard work and attention to detail, the same as in coaching.'

But the pressure isn't so intense day to day. 'In football, on Sunday night you're either going to feel real good or real bad; in the restaurant business, it's about how it looks at the end of the year.'

Their concept is hotel restaurants, and they often take over a space where a previous restaurant has failed.

They serve the type of highest-quality, carefully prepared steak that's popular at places like Ruth's Chris, Morton's and El Gaucho and is most attractive to customers with expense accounts.

For $79.95, order the 48-ounce porterhouse steak. Eat it all and join 28,000 others in the '48-ounce Club.' Shula is watching his weight, so he's ordering the filet, butterflied and cooked medium well.

It's the night the referees of the Oregon-Oklahoma game have been suspended, and that's a popular topic of conversation.

To say Shula is still an avid football fan is like saying Dan Marino was a good player, but he claims he doesn't second-guess Miami's current coach.

'I had my time,' he says. 'There were a lot of decisions that I wanted back, too. The thing you can't do is change the score. You gotta live with it and move on and hopefully learn from it.'

A good lesson for any endeavor - and maybe a good lesson for Oklahoma fans as well.

- Audrey Van Buskirk

520 S.W. Broadway, 503-552-2220, breakfast and lunch 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; steaks $21.95-$79.95