St. Johns’ Rockabilly Cafe Has Closed Its Doors

The ’50s cafe with stellar boozy milkshakes announced the news on Instagram.

Rockabilly Cafe, a tribute to the feel-good culture of the ’50s with heaping portions of classic comfort food, has served its last boozy milkshake.

The St. Johns business, located at 8537 N Lombard St., announced May 22 on its Instagram account that it had closed its doors. Bridgetown Bites first reported the development.

“With a heavy heart, Rockabilly Cafe is closed for business,” the social media statement read. “We would like to thank our customers in the community.”

When it opened in February 2022, the restaurant transported diners to chrome-covered muscle car-driving, rock-loving midcentury America. Owner and general manager David Liberman told WW just prior to the launch that the design was inspired by rockabilly culture—a sound and an aesthetic that he became passionate about during its resurgence in the 1990s.

“To sum it up, yes, it’s a ’50s diner,” he said. “We all know what those are. But this isn’t the cliché of Marilyn Monroe and Nighthawks on the wall. That feels half-ass and rote. It’s already been done.”

Instead, authentic showpieces were on display, like a working Wurlitzer jukebox that still took coins, a 1950s cash register, and steering wheels from that decade’s cars. Even the milkshakes were blended in style—Liberman purchased a Multimixer, the device McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc introduced to the fast food joint’s founders to speed up service.

Liberman was in the restaurant business for more than 20 years, managing everything from a ’50s diner in Los Angeles to a five-star steakhouse. He and his wife moved to Portland during the pandemic with their two young children, citing COVID-related closures and L.A. fatigue.

Rockabilly originally offered breakfast, lunch and dinner, and on weekends a tableside magician roamed the space, entertaining area kids while their parents enjoyed brunch and a bloody mary. A few weeks into service, alcohol-soaked shakes were added to the menu (our favorite was the White Ukrainian, thanks to its smooth rum and coffee flavors).

Just this past March, however, evening meals were nixed. A post on Instagram stated the restaurant would focus on breakfast, brunch and lunch going forward, with the building becoming a private event venue in the evenings.

Construction work had roads around the neighborhood torn up for weeks in 2022, making parking difficult in some areas. Rockabilly was also vandalized—someone smashed the large front window this past January, but the glass was quickly replaced. That’s not to mention the continual disruption to the overall hospitality industry—from COVID to supply-chain issues.

“We are going to miss you, our loyal customers,” Rockabilly’s Instagram closing post continued. “Thanks to everyone. Onward and upward.”

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