In 2008, a gritty little shop called Bunk launched Portland’s “chef-driven” sandwich revolution with one devastating pork belly Cubano and one perfect panini-pressed tuna melt. Behind the counter at 621 Southeast Morrison Street were two ace food veterans: co-owners Tommy Habetz and Nick Woods. The tiny space was stacked with boxes, and the street out front was lumpy and cruddy. Still, you had to be there. As such, a perpetual line snaked out the door: suits and tattoos, construction hunks, even a few meat-loving elders, canes in hand, braved the wait, all in it together to help Bunk usher in Portland’s indie food movement.
Flash forward to today: Bunk Sandwich outlets are found around the city, including Bunk Bar, with full-on drinks and live music shows. Meanwhile, Portland is now stacked with playful sandwich shops: Meat Cheese Bread (a veteran of the movement), Lardo, and more recently Güero, Sammich, and, yes, a place called Stacked. The Morrison Street lines are long gone. To wit: without even a whistle, much less a siren, the OG Bunk shuttered after service on Monday, January 15.
Taking its place in sometime in April: a second location for Pizza Jerk, Habetz’s Cully neighborhood punk-rock family pizza joint with very good pies. The menu will be smaller than the original, but with a core of slices, whole pizzas, and Jerk sandwiches.
Consistency-wise, Bunk has experienced the ups and downs of expansion, with the demands of a festival-loving catering truck, a Moda Center counter, and the short-lived expansion to New York in 2016. Habetz says the company will focus more on its Portland shops going forward, adding that he and Wood have drilled down on the menu, throwing out some veteran sandwiches (goodbye, roast beef), adding new ideas (hello, BBQ beef with cheddar and fried onions), and focusing on quality. “I’d like sandwiches that are more personal to me,” says Habetz, “more classic East Coast sandwich shop” and less cheffy experimental. On the horizon at Bunk: a subset of “Parm” sandwiches (chicken/eggplant to meatball) and “country club classics,” turkey clubs to old-school chicken salad. “It’s great to have a chef’s expression, but also great to see familiar stuff, on the regular menu, and know that the quality will be great.”