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The busineses of Southeast Portland, shut down for the past two months, are now showing signs of life

BECKY LUENING - Pieper Café, which had closed its doors in late March, reopened offering sidewalk service on Monday, May 18. The cafe has reorganized, and is now taking orders at the door, rain or shine.Pedestrians took to the streets Friday morning, May 19, to bask in the irrepressible warmth of a springtime sun. Governor Kate Brown's cautious reopening of other counties in Oregon brought a ray of hope to Portland – and when the sun made its appearance, it illuminated signs of life along Foster Road just east of Holgate Boulevard, in the Foster-Powell neighborhood (FoPo).

A handful of artists were busy painting over plywood that had been installed over large glass storefronts, where businesses had been forced to close shop or vacate during the coronavirus crisis. While the project of replacing vandals' scribbles with vibrant murals wasn't yet complete, the transformation of the mood on the section of Foster Road from "scary" to "cheery" was palpable. Other signs, too, pointed to a gradual and cautious reopening.

Kelsey Denogeon, owner of Pieper Café – a popular neighborhood gathering place on the southeast corner of SE 65th that had been closed since late March – was busy that morning with another type of painting. She was rolling a fresh coat of cool white onto the interior walls, in preparation for reopening the following Monday, Memorial Day. Some businesses west of Pieper had managed to remain open in some fashion – including Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels, N.W.I.P.A. (a beer bar), and Bread & Roses Market. Across the street, Bar Carlo has been offering a limited takeout menu, as has Bar Maven, west of the intersection at Holgate. (Call ahead or check websites for days, hours, and menus of the businesses mentioned.)

Meanwhile, some of FoPo's small retailers, hit hard by the lockdown, have responded with resilience and creativity. Borrowed Times, co-owner of Idle Hands Collective on the 6500 block of Foster, instigated a mural project that has taken on a life of its own, showcasing the work of over a dozen local artists – while his wife and partner ForestaVintage conducts business online at her Etsy shop – www.etsy.com/shop/forestavintage Ashley Ramona Preece, owner of Glasshaus Gardens, one of the businesses collected inside the retail space adjoining Bar Carlo, told THE BEE she'd soon be displaying and selling her plants out on the sidewalk, beginning on weekends.

Some big FoPo changes were already in play by the time the COVID-19 coronavirus hit. Red Castle Games moved seven blocks east in early May, and is now located in a brand new building at 7160 S.E. Foster Road, where they have a walk-up window. On the south side of Foster, at S.E. 63rd, a cluster of colorful murals now cover the corner where a new hemp bar is coming in: East Fork Cultivars.


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