On Foster Road – a grocery store with a past
In recent months a building at S.E. 61st and Foster Road, in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, has been the focus of vigorous debate over redevelopment of the site into a shelter for people struggling to find a safe place to live in the city.
Very near it, as tipped by a BEE reader, is a former grocery store which is also undergoing a transformation – which has revealed painted signs showing some of its past. Another BEE reader reveals it is to become a brewpub. In May, as layers of siding were pried from the façade of the building, this writer visited with a camera to document vintage signs reappearing. It was a last chance for this curious historian to delve into the past uses of the building, recently the Pal Do Market.
Well into the 1930's there were hundreds of modest "Mom and Pop" grocery stores scattered throughout the city, often within a few blocks of a streetcar line. They were small, like the Foster Market at 62nd Avenue, which is just over 1700 square feet in size.
While searching the 1926 Portland City Directory for information on the market structure being remodeled, I noted at least six similar markets within ten blocks of the site. After World War II, small grocery stores began to disappear, as chains like Safeway and Fred Meyer began building larger stores with convenient parking lots. (On-site parking is what originally led to the Safeway name – it was the "Safe Way to shop".)
But it took decades for the independent markets to fade; and obviously some are still in operation.
In 1947 an individual experienced in the operation of small neighborhood groceries began construction of his new, modern, concrete-wall store at 6112 S.E. Foster Road. Portland-born Pius G. Moore opened his new 7,000 square foot business, Moore's Food Center, in 1948.
Moore, known as "P.G." or "Mac", operated the business for more than twenty years, until he retired in 1970. He and his wife Frances, a native of Verboort in Washington County, lived nearby, at 4136 S.E. 63rd – and then at 5118 S.E. 52nd Street, until their deaths in 1979 and 1975.
After 1971, operation of the store was assumed by Leonard and Sharon Moore, who may have been related to P.G., but were neither children nor siblings. The business underwent name changes, becoming Moore's A.G. Food Center (which perhaps stood for Associated Grocers), and then Moore's Shure Fine Foods from 1974-1977.
In 1977 Roger and Mrs. Diane Sawyer purchased the business, and it became Sawyer's Food Center until the early 1980's. Subsequently, it was the Foster Villa Market, operated by Arriani Assi, and in 1985 it was managed by Habib and Suhail Fakoury, followed by Mr. Jong Lee Young. Between 1992 and 2004 it was named the Seoul Market, owned by a Mr. Cho. Finally, in 2007, it became the "Pal Do Market".The photo with this article, taken as the building was fenced off for the thorough remodel, reveals some of the earlier names of the business during its span of 70 years. According to a BEE reader, the venerable building is now slated to become a brewpub, very near the upcoming Multnomah County shelter to be run by Transition Services.