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September 10th, 2003 KELLY CLARKE | z-Bite Club
 

Table Scraps

Johnny and Savannah in Old Town, p:ear takes Fife, and Peanut Butter and Ellie's regroups

     
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Leave the seven-course dinners to Genoa. Bite Club is tightening its belt and small-plating the food news this week.

Johnny Ray's Grill, the food-cart crew with those infamous bacon-caramel milkshakes, took over the kitchen at techno emporium Ohm last week. And, what's that I smell--a 24-hour trend comin' on? Taking a cue from Voodoo Doughnuts, they're serving around-the-clock on weekends.

More Old Town news: The space that once housed the Couch Street Fish House has become Savannah. The upscale Caribbean restaurant and bar opened last night. Headed up by Maxwell Giwa of the reggae nightclub Seges and Chef Ken Harry (the Trinidad native behind Chanka's Catering and Portland's Caribbean Festival), Savannah is boasting authentic fare including conch fritters, Beef Pelau and plantains.

* * * *

Fife Chef Marco Shaw will whip up a special "fruit"-inspired menu this Sunday when his American-style bistro holds a benefit for p:ear, a nonprofit art-and-education program for homeless youth. All proceeds from the public dinner (which will display art works from p:ear teens) will go directly to the downtown program.

* * * *

A case of throwing the baby out with the peanut-butter sandwich? Angela Roth, the owner of kid-paradise Peanut Butter and Ellie's, called a staff meeting on Sunday, Aug. 24. That's when she informed the six-member crew that they were all being let go "for the good of the business," Roth said.

One of Ellie's managers, Melanie Smith, told the WW that the "no-warning layoff" prompted her to strike back. Smith said she posted a flier on the restaurant door, asking customers to boycott Ellie's, charging Roth with reneging on her pledge to provide a warm, welcoming environment to both customers and employees.

What caused the stickiness? "We had a bad vibe and it reflected in the service" is how Roth summarized her decision to wipe the employee slate clean. "Little problems, whether they are lost time, food or customers, add up." The restaurant owner says she rehired one employee after speaking with her one-on-one, an option she claims she offered to every staffer.

Smith tells the story behind the layoffs differently. "We were voicing our frustrations over how things were run," Smith says. "Two days later she fired us--everyone."

Roth says she closed the restaurant for several days in late August, and then enlisted friends to help her pass out free sandwiches to customers. Roth and her new staff of "kid-friendly big people" officially reopened Ellie's on Wednesday, Sept. 3.


Johnny Ray's Grill at Ohm,
31 NW 1st Ave.,
223-9919.
11 am-2 am Monday-Thursday, 24 hours Friday and Saturday.
$

Savannah,
105 NW 3rd Ave.,
274-2510.
Lunch 11 am-2 pm, dinner 5-9:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday.
$$

Peanut Butter and Ellie's,
1325 NE Fremont St.,
282-1783.
9 am-3 pm Monday-Saturday, dinner 3-7 pm Fridays.
$

Fife à la p:ear,
Fife,
4440 NE Fremont St.,
228-6677.
6:30 pm Sunday, Sept. 14.
$50.
Reservations recommended.

 
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