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District Spotlight: NE Broadway
Northeast Portland came alive in 1888 when a new bridge crossed the Willamette River and connected NW Glisan Street with NE Broadway Street for the first time. Businesses soon followed, eager to serve the middle and upper-class residents of newly established neighborhoods such as historic Irvington and Sullivan’s Gulch. Over the next century, the area was shaped by massive projects like the construction of the Broadway Bridge, I-84 and the Lloyd Center. Despite all the change, one thing stays the same – visitors can still take a streetcar ride across the river and find ‘Everything for Everyday’ on NE Broadway.
Venture Portland sat down with the leaders of the NE Broadway Business Association (NEBBA) to talk about what they love about the district and why they are proud to call NE Broadway home.
Katie Swanson is President of NEBBA and Manager of Footwise Portland, which has been selling stylish footwear for men and women since 1983. Murray Koodish is Past President of NEBBA and Manager of Portland’s oldest independent wine shop, Great Wine Buys, which opened in 1984 and stocks over 1,500 wines from all over the world. Dane Fredericks is NE Broadway’s Organizer, the organization’s sole part-time staff member who manages district events and meetings, promotes the area, supports NEBBA members and the all-volunteer board of directors.
What is your favorite thing about NE Broadway?
Murray: My favorite thing is the sense of community and the wide variety of businesses. I live in the neighborhood and can pretty much find anything I need along NE Broadway or NE Weidler streets. Whether you are looking for food, retail, services, nightlife or just a cup of coffee, there’s multiple places to go which is pretty awesome.
Katie: You don’t have to go too far to find what you need! I really like the history of the street. There are a lot of old buildings and established businesses that have been here for a long time.
Dane: There are a ton of businesses where I can stop in and get a personal recommendation. The owners of Broadway Books, Sally and Kim, are always happy to talk books with me which is great. We have places like Eb and Bean which has some of the best frozen yogurt in town. You can get everything you need and get to know the people that work here and own these businesses. It feels really communal.
Broadway Books opened in 1992 and regularly hosts events that feature both established and emerging writers and also supports neighborhood schools and literary organizations. The shop was named one of ‘Portland’s 10 Best Bookstores’ by the Oregonian.
Eb and Bean was founded in 2014 by Elizabeth Nathan, who honed her culinary skills in Paris under the guidance of Martine Lambert, the doyenne of French ice cream. She opened her second shop on SE Division St. in 2016.
How has NE Broadway’s identity changed over time?
Dane: NE Broadway does a good job of gracefully negotiating the transition from ‘Old Portland’ to ‘New Portland’. Most of the development is happening on the fringes of the district which allows for growth but at the same time we can maintain our historic character. Last year NEBBA did a survey of the district to find out what kinds of businesses were on the street and figured out that there’s a massive amount of health and wellness businesses that are hiding away in little corners. The area is attracting doctors, dentists and other service businesses and it is becoming part of NE Broadway’s identity. It’s why we decided to pull back the curtain with our brand-new event Broadway Backstage Tour: Health and Wellness.
Murray: I started at Great Wine Buys 15 years ago and have lived in the neighborhood even longer and it is definitely more active and busy than it used to be. Now there’s a more diverse variety of businesses like grocery stores, dry cleaners, gyms and other professional offices. There’s still a lot of longtime businesses too like Broadway Floral, Helen Bernhard Bakery, McMenamins Broadway Pub and Kitchen Kaboodle. Things may change and new businesses come and go but there’s so many stalwarts. There are even light industrial businesses like FE Bennett, where you can get a ladder or a dolly. The area around Lloyd Center also has a different character. With the Oregon Convention Center, Rose Quarter and multiple hotels nearby, we see a lot of tourists coming through.
Katie: The identity has changed fairly slowly compared to the rest of the city. There’s still a lot of mom and pop stores that have been there for 15 years or more like Great Wine Buys and Footwise. Comparatively, the real estate is less expensive here, so it gives businesses more opportunity to try out a brick-and-mortar. It’s a really welcoming environment.
Broadway Backstage Tour: Health and Wellness is on April 20-21 from 12-5pm and features behind the scenes tours, tastings, demonstrations and more at NE Broadway businesses.
Broadway Floral opened in 1928 and has one of the last greenhouses in urban Portland. It is more than 4,000 square feet and features original hand-cranks that still open the rooftop transoms for summer cooling.
Helen Bernhard Bakery opened in 1924 and has been operating out of its current building since 1939. Founder Helen Bernhard lived in the house that still stands next door to the shop.
McMenamins Broadway Pub opened in 1990 at the site of one of Northeast Portland’s earliest streetcar stops. It was the first McMenamins pub to focus on food and thus changed the face of one of Oregon’s most beloved chains.
Kitchen Kaboodle opened in 1975 and has been honored as one of the nation’s top 25 kitchen stores.
FE Bennett opened in 1930 and is one of the leading distributors of glides, hand trucks, pallet trucks, dollies and other material handling equipment.
Lloyd Center opened in 1960 and was the largest mall in America at the time. The mall’s indoor, open-air ice rink is open year-round and regularly hosts events like Rock n’ Skate, Yoga on Ice and kid’s parties. The mall is currently in the middle of a $120 million renovation that will add a 16-theater cinema and live music venue.
The Oregon Convention Center opened in 1990 and is the largest venue in the Pacific Northwest at 1,000,000 square feet. Its recognizable twin spire towers house the largest Foucault Pendulum in the world.
Other recent additions to the district include Electric Lettuce, a recreational dispensary that opened in 2017 and features memorabilia from the 60’s and 70’s; Foxglove Salon which opened in 2018 and provides a personalized salon experience complete with tea, wine and chocolate; New Seasons Grant Park, which opened in 2014 and is the company’s first location in a multi-use building, with 214 residential apartments and Spin Laundry Lounge, an eco-friendly laundromat and lounge which opened their 2nd location on NE Broadway in 2018.
What are some legacy businesses on NE Broadway?
Murray: One of the oldest business in the district is Helen Bernhard Bakery. People come from miles around for their cakes, pastries and bread. Broadway Floral opened shortly after. Timmco Insurance is another long-time NE Broadway business. Restaurants like Cadillac Café have been around for nearly 30 years. Even some of our nightlife has been around for a long time. Aztec Willies is a destination for Latin and Salsa dancing and it is family friendly too! There are a lot of neighborhood serving businesses like Sofa Table Chair where you can find a lot of cool furniture.
Timmco Insurance opened in 1970 and offers auto, home, life and business insurance.
Cadillac Café opened in 1989 and features a drivable 1961 Cadillac convertible, glass walled Garden Room dining area and deco themed fireplace.
Aztec Willies hosts salsa dancing every Saturday, as well as other culture-specific evenings such as Colombian Night, Brazilian Night and Cuban Night.
Sofa Table Chair sells a variety of affordable furniture in multiple styles and even offers consultation services to help you decorate your home.
Other long-time businesses include Cotton Cloud Futons and Natural Furniture which began selling futons and frames at Portland’s Saturday Market in 1981 and quickly expanded to several brick and mortars, most recently their current showroom on NE Broadway; Wigland, which has been selling wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions since 1984 and NW Women’s Fitness, a women’s-only fitness club that offers Pilates, Yoga, Nia, Muscle Conditioning, Dance and even child care and massage services.
The district is also home to many historic buildings including the Lion and the Rose Guest House, which is a Queen Anne home built in 1906 with both Craftsman and Victorian details and The Olsen and Weygandt Building, which is a fine example of Mediterranean architecture that was built in 1927.
What is your favorite memory from a NE Broadway event?
Dane: Any time it snows in Portland it is a big deal. During the February snowstorm I decided to stop in at all the businesses that were open and share photos on the NEBBA Facebook page. It was a lot of fun because Portland Public Schools were canceled so a lot people brought their kids to the businesses in the district. Businesses were grateful that we were letting everyone know they were open and it was a great opportunity to get together and commiserate about the snow. I look forward to making new memories at our Broadway Backstage Tour: Health and Wellness event!
Katie: The 2017 Ladies Night Out was a huge success. The event was canceled the year before due to snow, so we had a huge number of customers that came into the store who were so sad we didn’t have the event the year before. Everyone was excited to participate and it made the businesses feel like people really appreciated our hard work. There was a huge turnout and it was really successful.
Murray: For a couple years we did a Friday night kickoff of the Summer Super Sale with a bunch of bands and vendors. It drew a really big crowd, especially when we had local blues musician Curtis Salgado perform. People brought their lawn chairs and hung out with their kids. It was a fun community gathering which would be great to bring back.
Ladies Night Out is on the second Thursday in December and features special sales, free drinks and snacks and other activities for ladies at NE Broadway businesses.
The Summer Super Sale is on the third weekend in July and features up to 75% off at NE Broadway businesses plus free gifts and food and drink specials.
What would be your perfect day of food on NE Broadway?
Dane: We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good breakfast places. I would choose Cadillac Café because it’s a fun place to hang out and people watch and the food and coffee is excellent. For lunch I would go to Costellos Travel Café. Their baguette sandwich is one of the better sandwiches in town. It’s simple – mozzarella, basil, balsamic – but it is really good. For dinner I would go to Petisco, preferably when they are doing their monthly paella night. They have a great atmosphere. You can sit outside and it really feels like you are hanging out in Barcelona.
Murray: I’d hit the post-noon brunch at Milo’s City Cafe and get an eggs benedict. The crispy potatoes are addictive. There’s a great variety, it’s reasonably priced and the food is always good. For lunch I like to get sushi, from either Koji Osakaya or Yuki Japanese Restaurant. They have a good selection of healthy options. For an afternoon snack, I’d grab some Xurros at 180 Xurros and Xocolata. I’m a fan of the lemon curd and either a drinking chocolate or coffee. It’s the perfect mid-afternoon sugar rush. For dinner I would hit Frank’s Noodle House – Guy Fieri recently paid them a visit on his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. For a late-night burger, I like Iconic. They’ve got great food, cocktails and a solid beer list, or Rose and Thistle.
Katie: I will add that Petisco is great because their menu is constantly changing based on the season. For dinner, I like Blossoming Lotus. Even if you’re not vegan they have an amazing menu and it’s a romantic candle-lit atmosphere that is a bit off the beaten path.
Dane: Blossoming Lotus is definitely the best date spot in NE Broadway! I feel like someone is going to propose any time I walk in there.
Costellos Travel Café opened in 2004 and features TV screens that continuously display photos and videos from the owner’s world travels over the past 15 years.
Petisco opened in 2008 and is located in the basement of a Victorian home built in 1911. The name ‘Petisco’ refers to the Portuguese version of Spanish tapas.
Koji Osakaya opened in 1982 and specializes in Kansai-style Japanese food which includes sushi and regional dishes like okonomiyaki, a Japanese-style seafood pizza.
Yuki Japanese Restaurant is known for their modern interpretation of classic dishes and features special rolls such as St. Helens Roll, Go Blazers Roll and NE Broadway Roll.
Frank’s Noodle House was founded by Frank Fong who hand-pulls noodles for a variety of Chinese and Korean dishes every morning.
Iconic serves up a variety of veggie-friendly dishes plus burgers and bowls and hosts weekly live music on Wednesdays and Trivia on Thursdays.
Rose and Thistle opened in 1991 and serves traditional Scottish food like Scotch Eggs, Cottage Pie and Bangers and Mash.
Other drinking and dining destinations on NE Broadway include Black Water Bar, which serves up vegan fare and regularly hosts live music; Coco Donuts which uses a secret family recipe that has been passed down over 30 years; Gluten Free Gem, a GFCO certified bakery which opened in 2017 and dishes up gluten free pastries and desserts; Hale Pale, a tiki bar that features flaming cocktails and hourly indoor thunderstorms, Pastini Pastaria, an Italian restaurant that often hosts ‘pastathons’ to raise money for local schools; Spielman Bagels and Coffee which opened in 2011 and offers “Portland Style” boiled bagels made from sourdough with milk and honey and Swift Lounge, a cocktail bar famous for its mason jar-sized drinks.
What is the perfect souvenir for a visitor to NE Broadway?
Katie: A pair of Birkenstocks! Footwise has the largest selection of Birkenstocks in Portland and they are very Northwest-esque. Plus, there’s no sales tax so that drives a lot of tourism.
Murray: If you want a great Northwest wine, Great Wine Buys has people that come from all over the country to stock up because they immediately save 10-12% on taxes. Another great souvenir would be a kite from Elmer’s Flag and Banner, especially if you are making your way to the Oregon coast. They have a great selection.
Dane: We have a ton of pet-focused businesses in the District so if you want to pick up a souvenir for your pet, Pets on Broadway has plenty of treats, toys and accessories. We also have multiple vet clinics in the district including Banfield Pet Hospital, Heartfelt Veterinary Hospital and Broadway Vet Clinic in case you are traveling with your pet. Portland is a pet-friendly town and NE Broadway is a pet-friendly district.
Elmer’s Flag and Banner opened in 1963 and is Portland’s largest flag store with 4,000 square feet of flags, windsocks, weather vanes kites, flagpoles and more.
Pets on Broadway opened in 1990 and is Portland’s largest locally owned pet shop. The store sells more than 30 brands of dog and cat food and often donates to local animal rescue organizations.
Banfield Pet Hospital was founded in 1955 and now has more than 1,000 locations across America.
Heartfelt Veterinary Hospital opened in 2014 and offers health and wellness checkups, rehab, vaccines and general surgery.
What are some hidden gems in the District that most people might not know about?
Murray: Things From Another World. They sell comics, games, toys and other collectibles. It’s an awesome place to walk into and browse around. We are also fortunate to have some chocolatiers in the district. Woodblock Chocolate moved in recently and will be opening a café and retail space soon. Creo Chocolate is another chocolatier that offers a variety of chocolates that are perfect to take home or stash in your office drawer. If you are into knitting and yarn art, check out Twisted. People come from all over to visit, especially during the Rose City Yarn Crawl.
Dane: There’s also a bunch of small, 1-or-2 person health and wellness businesses. We’ve got a doctor on the street who is a general practitioner, Aleksandra Giedwoyn, if you want that personal relationship with your doctor. The district has a bunch of houses that have been converted into everything from massage to acupuncture and lawyers.
Murray: We also have a lot of businesses selling clothing like Golden, Here We Go Again and Sweet Jayne. Trade Roots has been on the street forever and has a very dedicated clientele and a great selection of goods and women’s clothing. Well Suited is awesome for men’s clothing. We also have Demimonde which is a jewelry store that is my go-to for birthdays and Valentine’s Day.
Things From Another World opened in Bend, Oregon in 1979 and is now the 3rd largest comic book retailer in America with locations in Portland, Milwaukie, Beaverton and Los Angeles.
Creo Chocolate is a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate factory that imports their ingredients from a small cacao farm in Ecuador.
Twisted Yarn Shop sells knitting fiber and tools and offers classes on knitting, needle felting and using a spinning wheel.
Aleksandra Giedwoyn was born and raised in East Portland and specializes in slow medicine, in which appointments can last 60 minutes or longer and allow for holistic healing.
Golden opened in 2010 and features a curated selection of contemporary women’s clothing and accessories.
Well Suited is a men’s designer consignment store and offers new and gently-used suits at up to 80% off.
Sweet Jayne carries clothing, jewelry, candles, bags and other accessories from local makers in the Portland area.
Trade Roots opened in 1991 and specializes in women’s clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts created by artisans from all over the world.
Demimonde is a jewelry studio and shop that offers one of a kind pieces; the name ‘Demimonde,’ means “half-world” in French and refers to the space between the day and the night.
Other NE Broadway health and wellness businesses include Blue Heron Chiropractic, which opened in 1996 and offers chiropractic care for everyday pain as well as car accidents and work injuries; Broadway Nails and Spa, which offers over 500 different nail polish colors; Broadway Physical Therapy, which offers bike fitting, athletic performance screenings and running analysis; Center for Chiropractic & Pain Rehabilitation, which offers chiropractic care and massage services from 6 chiropractors and 9 massage therapists; Eyes on Broadway, which has been providing eye exams and glasses since 1991; Grant Park Dentistry, which offers everything from dental hygiene to tooth whitening and oral surgery and Mudra Massage, which opened in 2008 and specializes in Ashiatsu, a massage technique in which the therapist utilizes their bare feet and body weight.
Murray, as Past President what is your favorite NE Broadway accomplishment?
Murray: There has been a business association on NE Broadway for over 35 years and it kind of waxed and waned over time but in the last 8 years we have really made an effort to get more people involved, increase membership, advocate for businesses and help get the word out about how awesome this district is. People from the neighborhood know what is here, but we get at least 25,000 cars passing through every day that might not. NE Broadway is the perfect place on your way in or out of downtown to stop for dinner, drop off dry cleaning or go to the hardware store. It just keeps getting better.
Visitors to NE Broadway can access the district via car using I-5 or I-84, Portland Streetcar, Trimet 6, 17 or 77 busses, or by bike lanes on NE Weidler and/or NE Broadway and a neighborhood greenway on NE Tillamook.
Katie, as current President, what future plans for NE Broadway are you most excited about?
Katie: Continuing to build the sense of community is very important as businesses continue to move into the district. Using our platform to bring awareness to the small businesses that are off the beaten path and don’t have as much of a presence. As an association we work together so all business in the district benefit. The upcoming Broadway Backstage Tour: Health and Wellness event is really exciting and will help create a new identity for NE Broadway as a one-stop-shop for all things healthy.
For more information, visit nebroadway.com.