PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For 112 years, Besaw’s has been a Portland institution at NW 23rd and Savier Street.
But their days at that location are numbers as the restaurant is being forced out in the latest of a series of big changes in Northwest Portland.
Besaw’s will close May 29 after restaurant owner Cana Flug said the property owners refused to renew their lease. Property owners at C.E. John said the two sides couldn’t agree on rental terms.
But the site is going to be redeveloped.
“I mean we’re not just seeing it in Northwest Portland but in all the neighborhoods,” said Brian Emerick of Emerick Architects, who is also the chair of the Landmark Commission.
Emerick is also the architect of a nearby project, a 4-story apartment building just a few blocks from Besaws where the Gypsy Restaurant and Lounge once operated. Other staples like Wildwood Restaurant disappeared.
Over the past three years, at least 16 permits are in the works for apartments or condos in this neighborhood known for its original restaurants and unique shops.
“I think it’s great for the city overall,” Emerick said. “It just has to be balanced in a way that makes for appropriate scale and doesn’t destroy the quality of the historic neighborhoods that are drawing people in the first place.”
Besaw’s originally opened as a beer hall in 1903 and over the years added food to the menu, making it a neighborhood favorite for lunch and dinner.
The redeveloped Besaws site will look similar to the Salt and Straw or Little Big Burger buildings the property owner also redeveloped.
The other interesting fight is brewing over Besaw’s name.
Flug, who has owned and operated it since 2005, and her staff said they plan to reopen soon in the same neighborhood. But the property owner told KOIN 6 News a Besaws Restaurant will be key to the redevelopment at that spot — with new operators.
“Besaw’s is a neighborhood joint, a place of connectivity, a place to unwind and it’s casual,” Flug said. “At the end of the day it’s a little bittersweet. That’s unavoidable. We love the location.”
But she added, “This was kind of a last bastion of Portland that had yet to be developed. There is no way you can get around that.”