At some point during the pandemic, many restaurants have pivoted to takeout box-friendly foods, cook-at-home kits, and jarred cocktails. But next month, five-year-old Hollywood district cafe Vivienne will make a big pivot away from its signature meal—brunch—toward a whole new model.
Vivienne’s brunch service, famous for things like baby cakes and chickpea stew, will continue until mid-September. Sometime between mid-October and early November, owner Robin Wheelright plans to launch Vivienne 2.0: a hybrid afternoon and evening cafe, wine and vermouth bar, culinary bookstore, and vintage kitchenware shop. She’s launched an online fundraising campaign to help with the transition to the new project.
One side of the café will be devoted to books, kitchenware, and cooking classes. Look for a curated selection of new and used cookbooks on fermentation, Japanese cooking, baking, and Portland-authored books, plus food memoirs. In the kitchenware section, look out for vintage goods like baking tins, plates, aprons, spatulas, and small appliances, plus some new items like kitchen linens. Wheelright also plans to host in-person and live streaming cooking classes.
“Being a self-taught cook, a lot of my own learning has come from books,” Wheelright says, citing books like Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune, Jessica Koslow’s Everything I Want to Eat, and Gregory Gourdet’s Everyone’s Table as major inspirations.
Wheelright also plans to use the space for book signings with local culinary authors. “I really want to reach out and work with people who have cookbooks ... to see what they can offer the community,” Wheelright says. “We're building a forum for us to engage on a deeper level of connecting with food.”
The other side of the business will be devoted to the café, which will offer a couple indoor tables, bar seating, and outdoor seating. The menu will retain a few favorites. Popular baked goods like baby cakes and cookies will remain; so will the pantry goods like take-and-bake mac ‘n’ cheese and biscuits. The in-house natural wine bottle shop with curated selections from Bar Norman’s Dana Frank will continue on.
What’s new on the menu: during the cafe’s new hours of noon to 6 p.m., Wheelright will offer European-style bar food like beef cheek sugo lasagna, vegan hazelnut and mushroom lasagna, and salade niçoise, plus bites like sardines, crudites, and cheese and crackers. Guests can also sip on natural wines by the glass or simple vermouth cocktails before catching an early movie at the Hollywood Theater next door.