Portland Parks and Recreation is getting into the restaurant business...sort of.
Last Friday, Dwayne Beliakoff—the owner of NoPo's popular "Northwest-meets-Creole" fine dining establishment Roux
—found out some big, exciting news.
After appearing before Portland's City Council several times, and beating out such fast food giants as Burgerville
, Beliakoff was awarded what is easily one of downtown's most sought-after dining locations—inside the new South Park Block Park (which might be named this
) currently rising behind the Fox Tower between Southwest Taylor and Yamhill Street.
Beliakoff, in a Willamette Week
exclusive, says in April of 2009 he will open a cafe, called Viola
(named for the stringed instrument, not the plant), in a jewel-box sized space in the upper southwest corner of the new park.
The cafe, with outdoor seating for up to 300, signifies a new direction for Portland Parks and Rec, who will be Beliakoff's landlord. It also marks the return of the much missed Martha Hubbard
—of Zefiro, Paley's and Bima fame and currently cooking away in Key West, Fla.—who will helm the cafe's global cuisine inspired kitchen (which makes sense since she's cooked on nearly every continent) and will rely heavily on the Portland Farmers Market, which is just one block away.
Don't be surprised if the new joint ends up being compared to the Shake Shack,
a hugely popular snack bar tucked neatly inside New York City's Madison Square Park owned by NYC's legendary restaurateur, Danny Meyer. We hear that's a major source of inspiration.
Our mouths are watering already.