Restaurant incubator ChefStable Group recently announced it will be bringing six food brands — including five restaurants and beer bar — to the Mercantile Village development along Boones Ferry Road and Kruse Way when it opens for business in 2021.
The Portland-based startup that partners with chefs to help get their restaurants off the ground will have the exclusive food and drink rights to the retail space attached to the Mercantile Village project, as was first reported by the Portland Business Journal. ChefStable Group hopes to bring something truly unique to the Lake Oswego in designing a shared ecosystem where diners can choose from any of the offerings that will be built into the 15,000 square foot space along with a courtyard area woven in between for diners to enjoy. Those establishments include Portland staples like Lardo, Grassa, Oven & Shaker, Saint Jack, Loyal Legion and one other restaurant that is yet to be determined.
According to ChefStable founder and owner Kurt Huffman, his company has been considering opening locations in the suburbs of Portland for a long time, and with all the great things taking place in and around Lake Oswego, the Mercantile Village development proved to be the perfect fit.
"It feels like a really great opportunity," Huffman told The Review. "We've been working on this deal for two years; it took a long time to get all the details figured out."
Growing up in southwest Portland — where his father taught at Lewis & Clark College — and having family friends in the area, Huffman is very familiar with the Lake Oswego community. He remembers the days when it took only 12-15 minutes to travel from Lake Oswego to downtown Portland, a quick drive for anyone looking to grab a bite to eat.
These days that commute will likely take you double the time, if not more. So Huffman and the ChefStable Group's idea is to bring that dining experience to you. While Huffman's idea isn't a new idea — think Salt & Straw, Bamboo Sushi — it's a bold new strategy in bringing multiple restaurants into the same space. It's also new in that it's an investment in the Lake Grove district, an area that sometimes feels underserved or forgotten compared to downtown Lake Oswego. That notion is likely to change with the Mercantile Village development and revitalization of nearly a half-mile stretch of Boones Ferry Road.
"Lake Oswego has a really interesting demographic with lots of professionals moving out there who have a deep interest and curiosity in local food," Huffman said. "It took awhile to get their heads wrapped around moving to the suburbs, but going out to Lake Oswego really resonated with my partners."
The mixed-use Mercantile Village development — a project of Trammell Crow subsidiary High Street Residential — consists of 206 apartments, parking for over 550 cars and 50,000 square feet of destination retail, all sitting on over six acres at the primary intersection of Kruse Way and Boones Ferry Road in Lake Oswego. The project is expected to complete in the summer of 2021, with leasing already underway.
"Our goal is to establish an authentic place that blends a residential and retail experience unlike anything available outside the urban core," said Damin Tarlow, Senior Vice President at High Street Residential's Portland office. "Our focus is on weaving together a mix of uses that will offer the vibrancy of urban amenities within the charm and character of the existing community. We look forward to continuing to work with the City of Lake Oswego and the surrounding neighborhoods and will provide regular updates on construction milestones and impacts."
Because the City of Lake Oswego put a 15,000 square foot cap on how much restaurant space the Mercantile Village development could have within that 50,000 square feet of commercial retail, Huffman knew ChefStable wanted all 15,000 of it.
He envisions a space where the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts, meaning that each of the six establishments complements the others in an environment created to entice diners to try multiple offerings. They're also partnering with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to have a shared license for alcohol, meaning if you grab a beer at Loyal Legion — one of Portland's top rated beer bars — you can also snag a slice of pizza from Saint Jack before taking a seat common area to enjoy your meal.
"Pizza, burgers, pasta, sandwiches... you're all in the same space. Everyone is going to have distinct buildings, but shared common area, so we hope that resonates with people," Huffman said. "The Boones Ferry Road project should be done (by then). It's going to look awesome and should be good visibility with access directly off of Boones into the food area, and unlike a lot of developments existing in Lake Oswego, we're going to benefit from a lot of onsite parking."
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