Mark Byrum, co-owner of Fuller’s Coffee Shop, a retro Portland diner that initially opened in 1947, said Thursday, May 11, that the business is hoping to reopen in June despite fire and smoke damage to the interior.
Since 1960, the corner of Northwest Ninth Avenue and Davis Street has been home to Fuller’s, a restaurant famous for its winding lunch counter and corner windows reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
Bynum claims that the exhaust hood was carefully cleaned five days before the Feb. 19 fire that started just after closing time. Even while the restaurant stands, many finishing touches must be repaired or replaced due to sm0ke damage.
“There was minimal burning, but because the sm0ke permeates all the wood, the finishes, you have to go back down to the beams and rebuild everything,” Bynum explained. “We had to tear the place down to the studs and rebuild it, but keeping the diner’s original vibe was crucial.”
Bynum, who, along with co-founder Carla Byrum runs Urban Fondue, Brix Tavern, and several other restaurants in Portland and Eugene, says he has been through enough remodels to know not to hold his breath until work is complete. The diner hopes to reopen in June.
The restaurant’s exhaust hood rises two stories, all the way to the rooftop of the building in the Pearl District, which could delay the renovation.“It’s all in the hands of that hood because we had to replace that completely,” Bynum said. “Its massive hood run all the way up through the roof.”
Bynum added that many of Fuller’s “core people” had found work at other Urban Restaurant Group establishments, including the new steakhouse Toro Mexican Kitchen at 1335 N.W. Everett St.
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Byrum claims he first ate at Fuller’s Coffee Shop in 2000. Shortly after, he approached John Fuller, the second-generation owner of Fuller’s, to ask whether he would ever sell the building that housed his restaurant, Urban Fondue.
This is what I want, no haggling, (Fuller) said when he called me in 2017. Would you like it? Remembers Byrum. We assumed control in the new year of 2018. My children frequented that place. The overall atmosphere is just so rich and classic in Portland.
Byrum wants Fuller’s Coffee Shop to operate for more than just financial reasons. Byrum lamented, “I miss my bacon omelet.”
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