Portland Dining Impresario Kurt Huffman Says Closing Restaurants at 10 pm Is “Unacceptable”

“That’s just going to be the death knell for sit-down restaurants,” Huffman says.

WW presents “Distant Voices,” a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.

Kurt Huffman owns a stake in more than 20 Portland restaurants: Ox, XLB, Grassa and Lardo, to name a few. None of them had a say in Gov. Kate Brown’s new rules for pandemic-era dining.

And he says they won’t pencil out for reopening his restaurants.

Huffman, who runs the ChefStable empire, doesn’t mind the governor’s social distancing requirements. He was already planning to have servers wear masks and to sanitize tables after each meal. His beef? The 10 pm curfew Brown placed on all food and drink service.

Related: When Oregon Reopens, Bars and Restaurants May Be Required to Issue Last Call at 10 pm.

As Huffman explains in this interview, a 10 pm last call limits any upscale restaurant to two rounds of dinner service—one at 6 pm, another at 8. And with half the tabletops in each dining room removed to keep people apart, that means a restaurant really serves dinner once a night.

“That’s just going to be the death knell for sit-down restaurants,” Huffman says. “We can’t survive with half occupancy and super-restricted hours.”

Huffman says that’s “unacceptable”—and vows to fight the rule. Even if he wins, Huffman says he doesn’t plan to open any of his places until August. He explains why he’s waiting.

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