Restaurant owners work to clean up downtown Portland

Multnomah County

Some owners say downtown businesses have been greatly affected by COVID, rioters and homelessness

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After months of economic uncertainty and social unrest in downtown Portland, restauranteurs are on a mission to clean!

Some restaurant owners say the coronavirus pandemic, increasing homelessness and destructive riots have dirtied and nearly destroyed the downtown area.

“These things are really affecting business, the demeanor and the feeling you get when walking to work and you have to walk past a garbage can that’s been ransacked,” restaurant owner David Hammond said. “The city is not cleaning this up.”

Hammond owns a few restaurants, including Phat Cart and the newly opened Buranko. Like many others downtown — his restaurants are boarded up after he and his wife were victims of rioters and looters.

Now he wants to help bring business back. That’s why he and his fellow business buddies are making clean-ups part of their morning routine.

“We started a few weeks ago, we’re getting more buddies each week,” Hammond said. “We’ve got garbage cans on wheels, garbage bags.”

Meanwhile, the city is working on a revitalization plan — but businesses are calling them out.

“I don’t see the city doing anything,” Portland Kettle owner Gayle Ostling said.

Hammond agreed, saying actions speak louder than words.

“I think it probably looks good on paper,” he said. “I wonder what policy they’re introducing that is going to take dents away at the problems we’re seeing.”

In the meantime, he and his fellow restaurant owners, such as the owners of Nong’s Khao Man Gai and Krua Bangkok, will continue doing their part to clean the streets, hoping to inspire other Portlanders to do some small part.

“I’m trying to make a case that you can be tired of it and not leave and come down here and help solve the problem.”

Hammond wants to encourage friends to form their own cleanup groups. But if they want to join Hammond’s group, meet at 7 a.m. Wednesdays at Buranko.

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