Q&A with the Sugarpine crew
We're so smitten with the new Sugarpine Drive-In that we had to hear more. Here's the scoop, from founders Emily Cafazzo and Ryan Domingo.
Trib: How did you come to be based in the Troutdale/Corbett area, and how much of the menu is inspired by something you've created at Larch?
Cafazzo: Ryan and I initially connected over a shared love of food, and the Corbett and Larch Mountain area was one of our favorite spots to hike and forage. We also draw a lot of our creative inspirtion from the beauty of the gorge, it's farming community, and the history of the area. So when we set our sites on buying a house, our sites were set on Corbett and the West Columbia River gorge area. Our Sugarpine Drive-In menu is different in so many ways from Larch Provisions, yet connected to our cuisine in that we are adamant about creating things from scratch, using local and seasonal ingredients. The Sugarpine Farm Sandwich is actually derived from past Larch Provisions recipes — our signature "carrot hummus" is combined with fresh and crispy farm vegetables and greens on soft seeded bread. It's a vegetarian (or vegan upon request) flavor bomb. Our Sugarpine Salad is also a direct off-shoot from Larch Provisions cuisine again in the focus on fresh, local, seasonal vegetables — this menu item will always have fresh farm greens, but the accompanying vegetables that garnish the entree salad will change with the seasons. Finally, unlike most ice creameries around the U.S., many of our ice cream toppings are laboriously homemade reflecting our artisan, from-scratch ethos. Birthday Cake Crumbs, Chocolate Toffee Brickle, White Chocolate Crunchy Bits, Miso Caramel, Honey Hot Fudge, Honeycomb Crunch are all homemade.
Trib: Would you have considered opening Sugarpine in Portland city limits or did its unique location and structure absolutely define the project?
Domingo: Having lived in the Corbett area for the past four years and fallen in love not only with the place but also the community here, it was very important to us to create a space for locals (and visitors) to gather. And when we found the space, which its rich history and its proximity to the Sandy River, we knew we had the opportunity to create something special and lasting — a classic destination experience for greater community.
Trib: With outdoor seating year-round how will you continue to be a draw in the winter months? How do you anticipate changing with the seasons?
Cafazzo and Domingo: We are working with our West Columbia River gorge neighbor at Reworks to design and enclose the patio for the winter months. Some of our signature summer items will stay the same, but we will change parts of the menu to create new fall and winter signature items — things like soups, roasted items, braised items, etc. Instead of rosé slushies we may have other fun wine and cider items. We may also have special dinner events in the winter where guests can book seats and we will serve a set family-style menu for an affordable price.
Trib: Are there any partnerships underway with the downtown Troutdale businesses? Even though you stand on your own, how have you been part of that community?
Cafazzo and Domingo: We joined the Troutdale Historical Society and are highly active in the Travel Oregon and Columbia River Gorge/Mt. Hood Territory tourism communities. We are also a member of the West Columbia River Gorge Chamber and possible the Gresham Chamber. We will always feature local vendors such as Thunder Island Brewery, Pfreim Family Brewers, Union Wine Co., Fiddlehead Farm, Black Locust Farm, Blue Raven Farm, and The Stand. We also regularly purchase pizza for our staff from the great folks at The Way Out Inn.