KATU TV’s Lincoln Graves interviews David Machado about the closing of his Portland restaurants and the future of the restaurant industry.
Portland restaurant owner closes five restaurants permanently
by Lincoln Graves, KATU Staff
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
“PORTLAND, Ore. — The coronavirus pandemic has devastated Portland’s restaurant industry. While some owners and operators are hoping to start things back up once things start to reopen, others are calling it quits permanently.
David Machado, owner of Nel Centro, Altabira City Tavern, Tanner Creek Tavern, Citizen Baker, and Pullman Wine Bar and Merchant, has decided to close all his restaurants. Machado had initially hoped the pandemic closures would only last about a month.
“It didn’t work out that way,” Machado said. “It got more complicated. It got more difficult. Time started to pass, and we started throwing food away.”
As the closures dragged on and future guidelines about reopening began to take shape, Machado grew concerned.
“We were going to have to close our bar,” said Machado. “Bars were not going to be legal. We would have to close all of our private rooms because too many people would be in them. We were going to have to restrict our hours of operation. We were going to have to take out tables.
Machado said that with no end in sight for restrictions, the economics weren’t going to work.
“In order for the industry to flourish we have to be busy, and in order to be busy you have to be full,” he said. “Being full is not compatible with the guidelines that are coming our way and that we’ll have to adhere to.”
Machado’s restaurants were especially vulnerable because they were close to facilities that also had to cancel big events.
“Keller Auditorium or the Moda Center or the Armory,” he explained. “All of our restaurants are in hotels that are based around public spaces a lot of people come to.”
Machado believes the pandemic will permanently change the restaurant industry. But he’s leaving it up to a new generation of restaurateurs to figure that out.
“A young, innovative, totally revolutionary way of looking at this will come from this crisis I believe,” he said.