Pieces shift on areas chess board of palate-related businesses

The addition of a new, job-producing food company and the loss of a planned tapas restaurant are two of many developments in the food world at the western edge of the Portland metro area.

Monday, Britain-based Chaucer Foods officially announced its intention to open a new freeze-dried food processing plant at 2238 Yew St. in Forest Grove, which will create up to 73 new jobs, beginning next fall, when the company finishes renovating its facility.

Chaucer has 35 years of manufacturing experience, but unlike its current facilities — all located outside the United States — this new one will include technology that speeds up the freeze-drying process and allows “batch flexibility.”

Company President Andy Ducker said the Forest Grove location was partly dependent on the federal New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) program, which was created in 2000 to spark private investment and jobs in economically distressed communities. Forest Grove’s current unemployment rate is 7.8 percent.

Oregon is one of 13 states to create a matching tax credit for the NMTC.

Those federal and state funds, Ducker said, filled “a critical gap in the project’s financing.”

The 85,000-square-foot space also is in a convenient location for shipping and receiving, which is important, given that Chaucer grows many of its raw materials outside the U.S.

On the restaurant front, Christian Geffrard, former owner of Stecchino Bistro on Main Street, has decided to relocate his business to Portland after making some dramatic renovations to the old Lionel Hall and Gardens building at 1921 21st Ave., which he had planned to turn into a tapas restaurant.

A Portland resident, Geffrard sold Stecchino last fall to Friendly Vine owner Randy Reeder, who kept its chef, Jeremy McMurtry, as well as some mainstays from the previous menu, such as the bruschetta, baked ziti and tagliatelle pomodoro. The two duck dishes appear occasionally on the weekly specials menu, Reeder said, and the escargot is also usually on hand.

Just up the street, owner Ofer Yoav is trying to sell Izgara Middle Eastern Cuisine so his family can move to Florida to be near his wife’s relatives. So far, the right offer has not appeared.

In the liquid category, Elk Cove Vineyards announced Monday that it has purchased Goodrich Road Vineyard, a 69-acre property which includes 21 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which were planted in 2007.

The Yamhill-area property has the exact same marine sediment soil as Elk Cove’s Mount Richmond property, also located in Yamill, according to Adam Campbell, Elk Cove’s owner and winemaker.

The new property is just a few miles from Elk Cove’s original estate vineyard in Gaston, Campbell said.

“The chance to procure 21 acres of immaculately farmed pinot noir and chardonnay vines in an area we knew was top-notch was too much to pass up,” Campbell said. “Top reserve quality and single-vineyard Pinot Noirs have been made from this site by our friends at Raptor Ridge, Soter, King Estate and many others.”

Finally, Waltz Brewing and Bull Run Cider received Forest Grove City Council approval for their liquor licenses Monday.

Waltz owner Adam Zumwalt hopes to open his tap room by late April, a few weeks after the license becomes official. He’s aiming to get the brewery up and running this summer.

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