Andee Hess will jump through verbal hoops to avoid the word “midcentury”—maybe because it’s a too-broad and overused term. Instead, she evokes a lived-in vintage residence when talking about her design for this Montavilla diner: an open-beam ceiling plane, woven-looking fabrics (actually vinyl, for durability), muted greens, and a touch of kitsch. Yes, the world-class homes of Frank Lloyd Wright and John Lautner were on her inspo board, but this was not to be a museum. Chairs, for instance, came from a library furniture supplier—familiar, sturdy, butt-friendly.
Slated to open to the public last March on a usually busy corner of Montavilla from some of the minds behind Eem, Ava Gene’s, Le Pigeon, and Beast, the wood-fired grill at Lazy Susan was both a highly anticipated newcomer and a usurper. Transforming the distinctive space left behind by the Country Cat—a longtime breakfast destination for wide-eyed tourists and weathered locals alike—into something else was never going to be easy. But Hess, whose Osmose Design is behind remodels of other Portland landmarks, including Salt & Straw, Ava Gene’s, and most recently the Oaks Park concession area, was undeterred.
“The legacy of the space was really interesting, but we wanted it to feel fresh and new,” says Hess. “I’ve been here before with these institutions. I did the new Q after Veritable Quandary. We changed the ceiling planes and did the opposite lighting. [Lazy Susan] is not fine dining; you’re supposed to feel comfortable.”
Comfort is indeed the guiding principle here, and Hess unleashed her experience in residential design on the commercial space, allowing the textures of the wooden beams and panels and vinyl to make it feel lived in.
Of course, it’s not lived in. For now, you can order your patty melts, potpies, or rotating brunch boxes online at lazysusanpdx.com.