Grain & Gristle Will Close at the End of May

The owners are preparing to launch a new restaurant, which will serve brunch, light bites and wine, and host cooking classes.

4421_Lede_Cheap-Eats_Christine-Dong_grain-and-gristle—2fer-deal (Christine Dong)

Grain & Gristle, the barnlike wood-grain pub and longtime de facto outpost for Upright beer, will serve its last meal at the end of May.

Owners Heidi and Jeff Whitney-Schile are winding down operations and vacating the restaurant at 1473 NE Prescott St. in order to start a new venture.

L’ecole, which translates to “school” in English, will indeed be part academy but also function as an eatery and events center when it opens this fall. The Whitney-Schiles are still in the process of securing their new location, but plan to announce the address once that has been finalized in the coming weeks. Grain & Gristle staff will be temporarily laid off over the summer while the owners get the space ready for its launch, but Heidi Whitney-Schile tells WW that everyone will be welcomed back.

Now, if you haven’t been to Grain & Gristle in a while, there have been a number of significant changes. Sure, you’ll still find a great tap list with beer from well-known regional brands as well as ingredients sourced from local ranchers and farmers. But the restaurant has been brunch only since May 2022. The owners also significantly reduced its hours, serving upscale takes on eggs, pancakes and popovers just three days a week.

“Brunch had been our biggest program for a number of years and pulling off both programs was becoming extremely taxing to our staff, so we decided to make the conversion to brunch only,” Heidi Whitney-Schile explains. “This decision has been a lifesaver to our staff, giving everyone a set schedule and three days off each week, which is usually a rarity in restaurants.”

Brunch service will continue at L’ecole under the leadership of Grain & Gristle’s longtime sous chef William Dion. Meanwhile, head chef Heidi Whitney-Schile plans to focus on the restaurant’s small bites and wine program as well as teaching classes (the new business will offer onsite courses on how to make everything from sausage to pastries). And charcuterie preparation is in the hands of co-owner Jeff Whitney-Schile. Those meats will be served onsite but also in picnic boxes with local cheeses, house-baked bread and curated wines.

Rather than launching all of that in the space they currently occupy, the Grain & Gristle team decided to pull up stakes for a variety of reasons. The lease is up, for one. It will also be easier to host events and run educational classes in the new venue. But Heidi Whitney-Schile attributes part of the decision to move to a problem that’s been plaguing Portland business owners for years: crime.

“We have been plagued with break-ins and vandalism at our current location,” she adds, “and are hoping our next spot will have fewer problems.”

While you’re waiting for L’ecole to open, the owners will tide over its fans with some events this summer, like dinners at Carlton’s Flâneur Wines and Red Truck Farm in Ridgefield, Wash. Keep an eye on both the Grain & Gristle website and L’ecole’s Instagram account for details.

When L’ecole opens later this year, appetizers and wine will be served 4-10 pm Thursday and Friday and brunch will be available 10 am-3 pm Saturday and Sunday. Expect classes to take place on weekend evenings after the mid-day meals have been wrapped up.

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