The Owners of Colorful Northeast Portland Cuban Restaurant Pambiche Are Repainting Their Building With a White and Beige Coat

Over the years, the building started to look like "a bad '80s album cover," according to the owner.

The Kerns neighborhood just got a little less colorful.

The owners of Apambichao Apartments, the festively-colored building at the corner of Northeast Glisan Street and 28th Avenue that houses Cuban restaurant Pambiche, confirmed to WW that the building is being repainted, removing the distinctive palette that made the property a Portland landmark and giving it a white and beige coat.

Pambiche co-owner John Connell Maribona, who took ownership of the building in 2002, says the building's bright blend of green, yellow, pink and purple was inspired by the Malecón, a seaside esplanade in Havana, and the colors of Caribbean carnival. But over the years, he says, the building started to look more like "a bad '80s album cover."

"Bright colors fade fast," Maribona wrote in an email to WW. "No matter what quality paint used (we proudly use Miller Paint) the brighter the color the more noticeable the fade. I learned quickly that Cuban color was no match for Oregon elements."

Maribona says the stucco began to crumble a few years ago, requiring repairs. A post on Pambiche's Facebook page in February said the building would be repainted "as soon as weather permits."

But Maribona tells WW the building will instead be restored to how it looked in the early 20th century, when it was known as the Gilmore Building, a move inspired by recently discovered photos of the building from the 1920s.

"Finding these photographs after fifteen years in the building was truly inspiring," Maribona wrote. "I wanted to do right by that and felt compelled to return her to her original splendor."

But the change is not sitting well with many Portlanders.

"Someone please assuage my fears and tell me this building isn't getting a new paint job," Twitter user Aaron Brown tweeted April 12 along with a photo of the building in the midst of being repainted.

"How was this allowed to happen without any public outrage?" replied Trail Blazers fan account Pinwheel Empire.

"I am genuinely and sincerely devastated by this," wrote another user.

For those upset by the repainting, however, there is some good news—according to a server at Pambiche, the mural on the eastern side of the building, depicting various images drawn from Cuban culture, will remain. The restaurant is also collaborating with neighboring brewery Migration on a pilsner, and will upgrade their patio this summer, Maribona says.

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