Food is the centerpiece of family, friends, and memories for many, so it’s no surprise that people can wax poetic about their favorite now-closed restaurants. That’s what lifelong Portlander Theresa Griffin Kennedy, author of Lost Restaurants of Portland, OR (Arcadia Publishing, September 26, 2022), found when she posted asking about local restaurants in a Facebook group called Dead Memories Portland—and found tons of willing respondents.
“People were so generous, and I ended up getting some really adorable quotes,” Kennedy told Portland Monthly. “It's the nostalgia of being a kid and going out with your family, and going to a restaurant [for] a special occasion. People just love to talk about their favorite restaurants that don't exist anymore.”
Researched and written over the course of three and a half years, the book goes into the history of 20 different restaurants, including Portland’s first vegetarian restaurant, the old-man-bar-turned-hipster-dive Club 21, the 24-hour Quality Pie, and Portland’s now-destroyed floating restaurant, the River Queen, housed aboard a 1922 steamboat. These are four facts we were intrigued by in Lost Restaurants.
1) There was an early restaurant in Portland called simply the Vegetarian Restaurant. Opened in 1897, it was owned by Seventh-Day Adventists who created peanut-based meat alternatives, like vegetable turkey with gravy. Kennedy makes the case that while the Vegetarian Restaurant was at first mocked, it laid the foundation for other vegetarian restaurants to open in Portland and led many to question the ethics behind eating meat.
2) What was recently the “Eat Now at Hooters” sign at Jantzen Beach originally read “Eat Now at Waddle's.” The Pietro Belluschi–designed Waddle’s Coffee Shop served dishes like omelets and hamburger patties with rarebit sauce, along with a side of racism—for several years, there was a sign reading “We Cater Only to the White Trade.” (Hooters closed this summer, and the sign now advertises JayBee’s Chicken Palace.)
3) The Princess Charlotte Pudding dessert, a creamy almond gelatin with fruit sauce, at Henry Thiele’s was beloved by Oregonian food icon James Beard. “I have tried for years and years to duplicate it … but have never achieved the same quality,” he wrote. Hint: you’ll find the recipe in Lost Restaurants.
4) The building on Sandy Boulevard that once housed Hollywood Burger Bar and is now home to Reo’s Ribs (currently closed once again, unfortunately, due to fire) was originally a streetcar station, complete with a ticket window and waiting area for passengers.