Paley’s Place, the highly esteemed restaurant that’s occupied the corner of Northwest 21st Avenue and Northrup Street for over two decades, will serve its last meals on Thanksgiving weekend.
Owners Vitaly and Kimberly Paley announced in a newsletter sent to subscribers on Oct. 4 that they will retire and sell the converted Victorian home following the holiday service. The Oregonian was first to report the news.
“The events of the last year and a half have given us all time to reflect on what’s most important, and that was certainly true for us,” the email stated. “This next chapter in our lives will be about the two of us, charting out a new life together, whatever that may be.”
Long before Portland became a nationally renowned food destination, the Paleys helped put the city on the culinary map when they opened their eponymous restaurant in 1995.
First drawn to the Pacific Northwest by the abundance of farmed and foraged ingredients, the Paleys, once they moved here, made Paley’s Place a celebration of that bounty as they filled the menu with locally sourced food.
The effort earned the Paleys high praise from critics. Vitaly Paley went on to win a James Beard Award in 2005 and proved victorious in a 2011 episode of Iron Chef America on the Food Network. Even decades after the cozy bungalow first rose to prominence, it remained a favorite in the city’s dining scene for the kitchen’s ability to knock out high-end dishes—everything from Wagyu beef tartare to a whole rabbit—without pretension.
In 2012, the Paleys began to grow a miniature empire of eateries in what would become Portland’s booming luxury hotel scene. That’s when they opened Imperial, the dimly lit, sprawling dining room anchoring Hotel Lucia, feeding breakfast, lunch and dinner to tourists and locals alike.
Four years later, the seafood-centric Headwaters—just blocks away inside the Heathman—joined the portfolio. In 2018, the Paleys introduced cuisine inspired by the Ottoman and Roman empires at Rosa Rosa, located on the ground floor of the Dossier.
However, in 2020, the pandemic quietly toppled every single one of those restaurants—the lack of downtown office workers, theatergoers and tourists made it impossible to turn a profit.
After temporarily halting all service at Paley’s Place during the first COVID-19 lockdown, the couple did eventually reopen for limited on-premises dining and to-go orders.
“We like the smells of a restaurant,” Vitaly Paley told WW last fall. “It was kind of sad for a brief moment when we first closed in March, we stayed closed for about a month, putting paper on windows and not doing anything felt sad. We gathered ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and put our heads together and figured out what could potentially work.”
It’s fitting the Paleys should bow out Thanksgiving weekend—it’s the busiest time of the year for their restaurant, and one that is filled with beloved tradition. Best book your table now—reservations are sure to be snapped up by everyone who wants to bid farewell to a piece of Portland dining history.