The new year started out with a whimper in the state of Oregon, with several Portland restaurant closings. On January 2, The Original Taco House closed its remaining locations. Two once-popular Chinese restaurants also shut down at the start of 2018: Mandarin Cove closed for good on January 1 and House of Louie closed after a 30-year run. Having so many Portland restaurants shut down so incredibly early into 2018 does not bode well for residents who enjoy the city’s various dining establishments, with the closings varying wildly in type of food and location within the city meaning potentially no restaurant is safe.
The Original Taco House Closure to Impact 65 Employees
On Tuesday, January 2, The Original Taco House, Portland’s longest-running Mexican restaurant, closed the last of its two remaining locations. The closure affected 65 The Original Taco House employees.
The family-owned restaurant chain first opened its doors back in 1960, eventually growing to five locations. Despite the storied history, cthe Original Taco House closure came as a surprise to both customers and staff. But perhaps it shouldn’t have been, as the business had been streamlining its operations, reducing its locations from five down to two: one on Northeast 82nd Avenue and the other on Southeast Powell Boulevard.
Even that wasn’t enough to make it viable. A statement posted on the door of one of the remaining restaurants noted that both locations are permanently closed.
“We are closing our doors to both of our Original Taco House Restaurants Tomorrow, December 31st, 2017,” said Jeff Waddle, a grandson of the original owner. “We sincerely thank and appreciate all of our longtime dedicated customers, our tremendous vendors, and all of the loyal support from our wonderful employees that we have been blessed with for so many years.”
Chinese Restaurant Closures in Portland
The new year also saw two well-known Chinese restaurants shut their doors for good. House of Louie, , despite being Chinatown’s last dim sum restaurant and having a three-decade-plus history, shut its doors.
“We were popular once, 20 years ago,” said James Leong, House of Louie co-owner. He blamed the restaurant’s closures on the end of his lease and Portland’s growing homeless population. Leon also added that, “Anywhere but downtown. The rent is too high.”
Portland’s bustling Chinatown was once home to dozens of Chinese restaurants, including a number of dim sum restaurants. Today though, many of the city’s dim sum eateries are located well outside of Chinatown, with Leong specifically citing Beaverton and Tigard.
Another Chinese restaurant closure was Mandarin Cove, which shut down on January 1, “due to the conclusion of [its] lease agreement,” according to a post on the company’s web site. The statement also advises those with gift cards on how to request a refund, available until March 31st.
“Thank you for your supports and love in the past years,” the statement concludes.
Mandarin Cove, which served authentic Northern Chinese cuisine, welcomed its first guests back in 1980. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to 40 years before becoming the Chinese restaurant shut down.
While restaurant closures are part of the economic cycle, the high number of both chain and independent restaurants closures over the last number of years highlights the ongoing challenges restaurant owners face. From high rent to tight margins and rising labor costs, to economic headwinds, it appears that American restaurants will continue to shutter at an alarming rate.
“For old Portland restaurants, it was Black Tuesday,” The Oregonian, January 2, 2018.
“Brace yourself, Portland: The Original Taco House has closed,” The Oregonian, January 2, 2018.
“Chinatown’s last dim sum restaurant has closed,” The Oregonian, January 2, 2018.
“About Us,” Mandarin Cove, last accessed January 3, 2018.