Rick Widmayer departed the wildly popular Southern kitchen at the beginning of February after six years as Screen Door’s head chef. Citing creative differences, Widmayer says they parted ways amicably. “We’d had some creative clashes over the years and it finally got to the point where I wanted more freedom to experiment and to grow. Screen Door has such a rigid concept and criteria: over-the-top Southern…there’s no room for change.”
Up next, a donut shop/bar concept with comfort food roots in the Mid-West. His new project will be a partnership with Donut-O-Rama’s Greg Slauson of “crème brulee beignet” fame. “I grew up in Ohio eating Dunkin’ Donuts and Crispy Cream," explains Widmayer, "I’m always on the hunt for the best donuts in town—people in Portland don’t take them as seriously as they should.”
The plan is to have a donut window for take-away in front, with a full bar serving “refined blue collar” comfort food in back. Expect to find a small, meat n’ potatoes menu with house-made sausages, smoked meats, and a signature burger, along with Southern, Screen Door influences like pork rinds and fried oyster po’boys. Slauson already has his dough queued up for the deep fryer, promising flavors like Whiskey-Bourbon-Buttermilk with Praline Bacon and Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel from his mad laboratory. Location details are hazy, but Widmayer is aiming for Chinatown, with an opening date as early as May 2013.
Stay tuned to Eat Beat for updates.