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A Sellwood chef is preparing to open his own gourmet cafe -- in Creston-Kenilworth!

PAIGE WALLACE - On this corner in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood, the paper in the window of the corner business space means that Starbucks has moved out, and Café Rowan, owned by a gourmet chef who lives in Sellwood, will open there soon. A new restaurant is set to open in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood in early 2020. Café Rowan will take over the space that previously housed Starbucks, at the corner of S.E. Chavez Boulevard (formerly 39th) and Holgate Boulevard, in the building known as Kupie Corner, in homage to the former Kupie Cone stand that used to be there.

The café will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on weekends, and a chef's menu dinner featuring Oregon wine pairings one night a week.

Owner and Chef Spencer Ivankoe describes the restaurant's fare as "farm friendly". He plans to source most of his ingredients locally, including beverages from Portland's Coava Coffee Company, and Steven Smith TeaMaker.

Ivankoe lives in Sellwood, and chose Café Rowan's location deliberately. "You've got Reed College down the street, you've got all the neighborhoods," he said. "I just loved the people here; the vibe here."

Building plans show indoor and outdoor tables. An open kitchen, surrounded by a bar, will allow patrons to interact with Ivankoe as he prepares their food. Industrial design elements, and a simple color scheme, capitalize on natural light from existing windows, he says – pointing out the white walls and concrete flooring.

Along the west wall, an artisan marketplace will offer local food and art for sale. Ivankoe will sell his own homemade products, such as hot sauce and pickles, along with goods from about 30 other companies and artists.

Planned special events will include live music on the first Sunday of each month, and a monthly charity dinner with proceeds supporting a selected local nonprofit.

Ivankoe originally hails from New York, where he worked as a chef and restaurant consultant. He often visited relatives in Oregon when he was growing up, which led him to fall in love with this area. He's since traveled to 18 countries, and incorporates flavors from those places into his dishes. "I like to take simple foods and elevate them," he tells THE BEE.

Café Rowan's menu includes several versions of eggs benedict. One is made with pork and kimchi, another with smoked trout and yuzu hollandaise sauce. The menu also lists salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and house-made granola. Gluten-free options are available.

By the way, the name Café Rowan is a nod to Ivankoe's three-year-old black lab, Rowan, whose silhouette appears on the restaurant's logo. The dog will also be depicted on the restaurant's east wall, in a mural Ivankoe describes as "very Portland".

If construction moves along according to schedule, look for the café to open sometime in January.

For Ivankoe, the food is only part of his business equation. "I don't want it to be a pretentious place," he said. "I want to create a place where people feel comfortable.

"Just bringing the neighborhood together. That's what I want most."


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