How Financial Circumstances Pressured This Award-Successful Chef to Shut Her Portland Restaurant

Only a couple of years after closing her beloved Beast in Portland, the chef Naomi Pomery is shutting down her follow-up venture Ripe Cooperative this weekend.

In a note posted to Ripe’s website, Pomeroy explained that the marketplace and café wouldn’t be able to continue in the current economic landscape. Costs for ingredients have gone up (some doubling or even tripling, Pomeroy noted); labor is more expensive; and rent is also increasing. All of these factors have made it impossible for Ripe to continue on in the way it’s been operating for the past two years.

“I want to live in a world of small beautiful things, but what I see out there is a big race to the middle, and Ripe is simply not cut out to make the necessary compromises and still be what we want it to be,” Pomeroy wrote.

Ripe, which started off selling meal boxes, took over the space formerly occupied by Beast, which closed at the beginning of the pandemic, Eater Portland noted. Pomeroy’s previous restaurant—which served a at communal tables—earned her many accolades, including a James Beard Award. At Ripe Cooperative, she eventually shifted into a market selling items such as homemade pasta, salad dressing and frozen custard, and then expanded with dine-in service, offering dishes such as scallop crudo and eggplant ravioli.

The current economic picture has been a factor in many restaurant closings over the past few months, and throughout the pandemic overall. In just one example, the operator of the iconic Central Park boathouse decided to close the restaurant because of the rising cost of goods and labor. That’s on top of the more than 70,000 restaurants that are estimated to have closed in 2020 alone because of the pandemic.

Pomeroy hinted at a potential new project in the future, writing, “We’ll see you further on down the road, in some shape or form.” Whether that means a new version of Ripe Cooperative, Beast or something else altogether remains to be seen. For now, though, Pomeroy is remembering the good times that Ripe afforded her over the past two years.

“I’ve had more joy connecting directly with people on the patio, enjoying their handmade pasta and affogatos, soaking in the light in our beautiful garden-scape, than I ever could have imagined,” she wrote. “Creating something more accessible—simple food and drink the way we like to enjoy it ourselves—has nourished my soul during some of the most trying times imaginable in our industry.”

Ripe will be open Thursday through Saturday, 3 to 10 pm, before turning off its lights for good.

Source: Robb Report

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