Portland Chef Tommy Habetz Suffers a Brain Hemorrhage

The Pizza Jerk and Bunk Sandwiches owner is facing a long recovery. A GoFundMe has been set up for his wife and children.

Tommy Habetz (Facebook)

Portland chef Tommy Habetz, of Bunk Sandwiches and Pizza Jerk, suffered a brain hemorrhage Dec. 22. Following emergency surgery to relieve the pressure from the hemorrhage, as well as a brief medically induced coma, he is currently recovering but is expected to remain hospitalized for several months.

The medical crisis was especially fraught for Habetz’s family because his wife, Brooke, had just undergone an emergency medical procedure of her own (surgery on a fractured kneecap). The chef’s teenage son, Hugo, had to call 911 when the incident occurred (the couple also has a younger daughter, Viv).

Already, the Portland food community has rallied round Habetz, both on social media and with a GoFundMe that, as of Monday night, had raised close to $40,000. Those funds will help make up for Habetz’s loss of income and support the family both financially and emotionally.

Writing on Instagram, Han Ly Hwang of Kim Jong Grillin’ said that Habetz was “one of the people that helped me get back in the kitchen when I was going thru a real hard time in my life,” while the people behind Eem summed up Habetz’s multifaceted importance to our city this way:

Before opening Bunk Sandwiches with Nick Wood and, eventually, Matt Brown, Habetz, who began his cooking career in New York City working for the likes of Bobby Flay and Mario Batali, was part of Naomi Pomeroy and Michael Hebb’s infamous (and epochal) Portland restaurants, cooking at Ripe/Family Supper, and then opening the Gotham Building Tavern, while working alongside the likes of Troy MacClarty, Morgan Brownlow and Gabriel Rucker. Habetz was even the person who told Rucker to call his first restaurant Le Pigeon.

“Tommy, Brooke and the kids are as close to family as Hana and I have had living in Portland,” Rucker wrote on his Instagram.

(Disclosure: This writer is also a friend and sometimes a collaborator of Habetz’s.)

Bunk, which first opened in 2005 and had as many as five locations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, currently consists of Bunk Bar Water (which has also been a stalwart music venue) on the Central Eastside as well as the newer Bunk Beer Hall at Bridgeport in Tigard. In 2015, Willamette Week’s Matthew Korfhage named Bunk’s Cubano one of the “12 Wonders of Portland Food.”

Since that year, however, Habetz was more likely to be found working the ovens at Pizza Jerk, which recently opened a new location on the Portland State campus in addition to its Northeast 42nd Avenue flagship (a third spot on Southeast Morrison Street, which had also been the original Bunk Sandwiches, closed this year).

You can find the GoFundMe at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-brookie-and-the-kids.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.