The republic forever
- Christina Melander
- Portland Tribune - Features
So, you know that Huber's is Portland's oldest restaurant (established in 1879), but did you know that the Republic Cafe celebrates its 80th anniversary this month? Do you even know what the Republic Cafe is?
If you go in for bars with a well-worn, faded-glory, Raymond-Chandler-would-have-hung-here feel, or if you like old-school Chinese food, you've got to check this place out.
In the midcentury, before urban sprawl sent city dwellers packing for the suburbs (and taking their dining dollars with them), Chinatown's Fourth Avenue restaurants reportedly drew lines around the block.
In the '70s, when liquor laws were significantly more lax, the Republic Cafe was a booming after-hours haunt. PR man Richard Horswell says the party would go well past 4 a.m. Considering that the bar used to fill what is now the large banquet room (today's excellent Ming Lounge is much smaller), they must have been some parties.
Continuously operated since 1922, the place was owned by the Wong family until 1979. It has changed hands twice since then; 'Dr. Wong,' a descendant of the original owners, still dines at the Republic and lends advice to the current owners, the Mui brothers.
Among other assets, the Republic boasts a spectacular neon marquee, circa 1950, the likes of which are no longer allowed in Portland. Over the years it has hosted Harry Belafonte, Danny Kaye, Henry Fonda and, more recently, Shaquille O'Neal.
To celebrate its birthday, the Republic Cafe is bringing back popular old drinks, such as the Singapore Sling and Honolulu cocktails, and is serving complimentary egg flower or hot-and-sour soup with entrees throughout the month.
222 N.W. Fourth Ave., 503-226-4388
Not much has changed at the Burnside Bean Coffee Club Ñ except the name and the coffee.
'We saw a lot of good things already in place, but we think we've made a big improvement by bringing in Stumptown coffee and upgrading the equipment,' says manager Nicholas Hall. (The Bean used to carry Equator Coffee Co. products.)
Christened the Beehive Coffeehouse & Cafe, the shop opened Oct. 1. New owner Randy Rapaport also owns nearby Three Friends Coffeehouse. With magazines, newspapers and board games scattered about, the cozy Beehive exudes the same lived-in quality of the Bean. Hall is adding lunch items such as quiche by local company Newhouse Cheesecakes and build-your-own sandwiches featuring organic vegetables and garlic-dill tofu spread.
Beehive also carries Madrona Market soup, a good alternative to homemade. The soup isn't frozen or even cooked; its components Ñ hand-cut vegetables, made-from-scratch stock Ñ arrive fresh and preportioned for the cafe to assemble and cook onsite. Hall, who also oversees operations at Three Friends, says Aztec black bean, chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, and cream of asparagus varieties have proved popular there.
As for the name, Hall says it grew out of the vibe he observed at Three Friends, which has a large gay and lesbian clientele but also is a real neighborhood spot 'where everyone comes together like bees to a hive.'
2327 E. Burnside St., 503-234-8610