PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s no secret Portland’s restaurants have been struggling for the past few years, with a pandemic and crime leading to empty downtown office buildings and declining tourism – especially in Portland’s Old Town.
Now a beloved restaurant owner who’s survived it all is facing an even bigger problem — costly surgery that could shut his doors for good.
KOIN 6 News talked to some of the regulars who said if the restaurant wasn’t here, it would be “really sad.”
Chef Naji Bouhmid owns Kasbah’s Moroccan Café on the corner of NW Second and Davis.
“People, like offices people, they come to me when they’re hungry and tourists when they’ve been walking all day,” Bouhmid said.
KOIN 6 News was told Bouhmid has worked alongside some of the best cooks in the world, prepared meals for foreign dignitaries and celebrities and has cooked for the Peace Corps in Morocco.
20 years later, one of those volunteers walked into Kasbah’s and recognized Bouhmid almost instantly.
“When she saw me she had tears in her eye. Now she’s the recruiter for Peace Corps here in Portland,” Bouhmid said.
Bouhmid opened Kasbah’s in 2016. Like other restaurants, Kasbah’s experienced troubles during the pandemic.
“I started doing good by 2019, then the pandemic changed everything,” Bouhmid said.
The restaurant also hasn’t been a stranger to the unprecedented crime in Old Town, as their windows have been shattered twice this year.
Bouhmid said it he spent $1,300 to replace the windows and another $500 went towards fixing the door after someone jammed metal in it.
But he’s made it through, and runs this place by himself from taking orders to washing dishes.
Now, it’s become too much and he needs surgery on his wrist.
“I overused my wrist that’s the thing,” Bouhmid explained.
But a costly surgery and recovery time would ensure that Bouhmid would have to close the doors to Kasbah’s permanently.
Bouhmid’s friends created a GoFundMe to help raise money for the surgery and operating costs at Kasbah’s.
Regardless of the situation, Bouhmid knows what motivates him.
“You know sometime I think ‘oh I need to stop doing it’ but then you see someone you didn’t see for too long, it like gives you happiness inside,” Bouhmid said.