Sunday, September 10
Cafe au Playdate, Vita Cafe, 3024 NE Alberta St, Portland. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., or shop all day
Daveena says: In an era when so many cities are losing “mom and pop” shops, Portland is fortunate to be attracting so many parent-owned stores, services, and restaurants. Vita Café is a perfect example. Long a NE neighborhood favorite, what you may not know is that Vita was bought in April by Karen Woodbury and Aaron Woo, a couple who had dreamed of running a family-friendly café for years. Both of their children have significant health issues and Karen says they were looking for a way to combine family and business that would benefit not only their own family, but other families as well.
Eleven years ago —- long before they became parents —- the couple were camping in Bar Harbor, Maine, when they stopped in at a café that had a bocce ball court. For years they talked, almost jokingly, about opening a café with a bocce ball court. But when they looked at Vita, they knew they had found the right place. They promptly set about transforming a concrete side-lot into a lush patio-garden with tables and, you guessed it, a bocce ball court. Now every so often, someone will stop in at Vita and say, “you know, this reminds me of a café in Bar Harbor...”
Karen and Aaron met while working at Patagonia and they have brought the values of sustainability that Patagonia embraces into their own business endeavor. Their menu focuses on locally-sourced and organically-grown foods and offers something for everyone—from the awesome “chicken fried steak” that is really tempeh to the good-old-fashioned burger. They also have a great kids menu. As part of their commitment to giving 1% of sales to local environmental and nonprofits, Vita is hosting a Café au Playdate that will help Café au Play build its own home.
Sarah says: While the title of "best vegetarian food on the planet" might be a bit of stretch, I'd say unreservedly that Vita serves up my favorite vegetarian in Portland, and quite possibly the best chicken-fried (not) steak I've ever tasted. We took Jonathan here the night before he shipped out for Basic Training, and this is also where I first met the urbanMamas, so it will always hold life-changing memories for me. I wouldn't miss a chance to eat at Vita for anything!
Saturday, August 12
Cafe au Playdate, Grand Central Bakery, 714 N Fremont, Portland. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or shop all day
One of my all-time favorite things about Portland: the Grand Central Bakery. I fell in love with them when they first moved into the 2230 SE Hawthorne location, a few blocks from my childhood home and the greatest in a series of interesting tenants in that block. Oh did Grand Central blow the garden store out of the water. I mean, really, seeds and fountains have nothing on marionberry jammers and the best ginger molasses cookies in town.
Grand Central has a new store, now, 714 N Fremont, and the owner has graciously offered to give 75% of his profit for an entire day, this Saturday, August 12. We'll be holding a "Cafe au Playdate" there from 10 a.m. 'til 1 p.m., so stop by and see us, or come anytime for a loaf of Como bread or my favorite: the Continental on a croissant (it's grilled with cheese and tomato chutney, oh my!).
Check back to this post for more dates and info on Cafe au Playdates and other events.