Incoming Australian Coffee Roaster Apologizes For Trashing Portland Cafes

“One of the big holes there is service... Not in restaurants, not in bars. In coffee shops and cafes.”

Northeast Alberta Street will be getting a coffee shop from Australia this year.

Melbourne-based mini-chain Proud Mary will move in next door to 10-year-old iconic punk dive the Know, until the Know is forced to close this November due to a rent hike.

Related: Alberta Street's Beloved Punk Club The Know is Closing.

"The damn money moved in and they'd rather have a boutique salt shop," the Know's Ryan Stowe told WW this June, when he decided to shutter his bar.

Proud Mary has not yet announced plans to sell fancy salt—but according to owner Nolan Hirte, they're doing just about everything else:

"We roll our own oats," he told coffee blog Sprudge today. "We make our own curd, yoghurt, and cheese in-house. We even make our own kombucha and fermented kefir drinks. The list goes on and on."

But in a true Portland welcome, Proud Mary is already having to apologize to our city before they've even opened their doors.

Back in May, when Sprudge broke the news locally that the Melbourne-based cafe would be coming to Portland, Proud Mary owner Nolan Hirte was quoted in Oz food blog Broadsheet as saying, essentially, that he'd decided to come to the forlorn coffee desert of Portland because our service is so awful.

"The cafe model has been flogged pretty hard here [in Melbourne]," he says. "I honestly reckon it's harder and more risky for me to do another three cafes here in Melbourne than it is to go to the other side the planet and do something I know really well, a place where there's nothin…

Well, not quite nothing. There are plenty of cafes in the area, just few that have realised the standard-Melbourne-cafe trinity of great food, coffee and service. "One of the big holes there is service," Hirte says. "Not in restaurants, not in bars. In coffee shops and cafes."

This apparently didn't sit overly well with stateside commenters. In a follow-up interview with Sprudge today, Hirte now apologizes… "to anyone who read the article."

The writer of the Broadsheet piece took him "way out of context," he says, when he appeared to call the birthplace of Stumptown, Heart and Coava coffee roasters a place "where there's nothing."

Related: The 10 Best New Coffee Shops in Portland

"I did not write the article," Hirte tells Sprudge. "It was written after a conversation with Nick Connellan, a journalist from Broadsheet. I didn't get the chance to read it over prior to publishing, and he was unaware that it would be taken negatively in the U.S."

Hirte now says that "When I said the biggest gap between the States and Australia was 'service' I didn't mean I think the service is bad in the States at all. It's amazing; however, it's a completely different style to what we have here."

He also says that he's excited to come to town and "surround ourselves with the best in the industry and try and make a difference."

Proud Mary hopes to be open before Christmas.

Read the rest of Hirte's interview about Proud Mary and Portland coffee here.

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