When it opened, hugely popular rotisserie chicken spot Pollo Norte was known for being so busy you had to rush home from work to get hold of one of their chickens—so busy that after bootstrapping their first location, it took them only a bit over a year to open up a second location on Northeast Glisan Street with a big patio and cocktails.
Turns out, the booming real estate market is to blame. Their landlords, real estate brokers Rambo Halpern and Randall Palazzo, are planning to sell the lot, and balked at extending the lease for the restaurant, according to Pollo Norte co-owner Wade Shelton.
Update August 28: Halpern says he did offer a year-to-year lease, but couldn't offer longer-term. Shelton says this wasn't enough security for the business.
"They're trying to sell the property, and they felt that having a lease of any long term didn't help," says Shelton. "It closed off their options to different types of sellers."
Shelton says they looked into buying the property themselves, but couldn't make the numbers work out.
He says it's hard giving up the original spot that started their business, especially when business was going well there.
"That location was doing just fine," he says. "We loved being part of the community and the neighborhood. It's been a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get that thing open. It's been hugely painful. The new one—on balance, it has far more potential because of size and location. But that's hard to think about when you're in the throes of leaving one you never intended to."
Halpern tells WW that the sale is necessary for financial reasons, and that he had initially intended to keep the property longer. "I've got my own blood, sweat and tears in this property too," he says. "When I bought it, it was a scrap metal shop."
Shelton says that closing down their first shop is occupying all of their time for the moment, but that they plan to regroup and try to find another new spot to put another Pollo Norte.
"Westside, or deeper southeast like Woodstock and Sellwood, would give us a lot more distance between locations," he says. "We're going to have to lick our wounds, shore up and look toward the next one."
In the meantime, he says, they're planning to buy a slushie machine, and are hoping to build a heated patio for their new location on Northeast Glisan Street.