John's Marketplace has stood the test of time - with good reason
John's Marketplace is an institution in Southwest Portland's Multnomah Village. If you're a beer person, this is your paradise.
"Basically, if you can get it (beer) here in Oregon," the shop advertises, "then we have it!"
You want wines? The selection is supreme and the staff incredibly knowledgeable, especially if you happen to run into Dave Kaplan, the "wine guy" at John's Marketplace. Kegs, drafts, wine tastings, fantastic burgers and sandwiches — it's all at John's.
However, I'm particularly fascinated by the historical aspect of John's, which anyone other than longtime residents may not know. It is among the oldest remaining businesses in Multnomah Village, dating back to 1923, when it used to be John's Meat Market, according to Nanci Hamilton's historical booklet, "Portland's Multnomah Village."
While many businesses in Multnomah Village closed their doors after World War II because of the arrival of convenient shopping meccas like Fred Meyer and Washington Square in Tigard, as Hamilton points out, the most notable establishments that still remain are John's and Renner's Grill (1939).
According to the Multnomah Historical Association's website in a piece written by Lowell Swanson, John Feuz Sr. bought a meat market from James Sullivan on Dec. 1, 1922, which at the time was located where Sacred Money Studios now resides. John at that time was 28 years old, having come from Switzerland in 1914, where he'd been trained as a butcher. His wife, Anna Gabriel, whom he married in 1923, became his business partner.
John and Anna used the front of the store for their retail business and the back for wholesale. John also delivered meat to his customers and sold it wholesale to the Oregon Electric Railway. He had a two-story smokehouse on premises and made his own sausage in his basement. He started selling groceries as well as meat in 1932, and opened the store in its current location at 3535 S.W. Multnomah Blvd. in 1958.
John's store remained in the family until 1984, when it became mostly a convenience store under the management of John's son David. In the early 90s, Jack Furman bought the place and was the one who added the wine and beer selection. In 1999, the current owner, David Percival, bought John's Marketplace and runs it to this day.
Since I tend to be drawn to historical places and things, knowing its history makes John's all the more appealing to me. But most importantly, I have never, ever, not found what I wanted in terms of wine or beer at John's. And if I didn't know what I wanted (since I'm not the world's biggest connoisseur of beer or wine), some helpful salesperson there would steer me the right way.
John's has wine tastings every Friday evening from 5-7 p.m. when, for $5 a person, you can sample a variety of local and imported wines. They also have Winemaker Tastings a few Saturdays a month. You can check their website, johnsmarketplace.com, under "events" for specifics, or keep an eye on their sign, where they advertise various events — including some that are free!
But let's get back to the food.
You can sit at the lunch counter at John's and enjoy $5 draft pours while you chow down on legendary Tillamook cheeseburgers — single or double, with bacon or without, "veggie-tized" or not. They've got a "Killer Turkey" sandwich with turkey, bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomato, etc.; the "Flying Pig" sandwich, with ham, Tillamook cheddar and fixins'; the "Virgil," a BLT with onions and avocado; a "Dirty Cheesesteak," with lean steak marinated in a house brew; and a grilled Tillamook cheddar and provolone sandwich on Challah bread.
Yummy, hardy and all a great value.
So next time you're looking for exactly the right libation or a delicious sandwich/burger, visit the place that's made its name in history for all the right reasons: John's Marketplace.
Rating: Extraordinarily sincere!
Georgina Young-Ellis moved to Multnomah from Queens, N.Y., in 2015. She explores the world outside of big-box chain stores to find local businesses intent on customer service, customer satisfaction and a pleasurable customer experience. To read more about her experiences at Portland-area shops, visit Searching4Sincerity.com.