Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Livin' in the Blurbs: Oregon's Uniqueness Exemplified

Health care is a big topic these days in many sectors, not just in Congress, and many Portland restaurateurs are taking the unusual step of providing health care their employees, including servers, kitchen staff and dishwashers. Businesses of 50 or fewer employees are not required to do so by the Affordable Health Care Act, so providing this vital access costs small employers a great deal. Local restaurant owners Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz of Biwa have debuted the innovative practice of adding a 5% "Health and Wellness" service charge on guests' checks, with a card accompanying it explaining that the money goes into a fund to pay for health insurance for all of the staff, as well as bonuses for the cooks and dishwashers. The response from customers has been universally positive, as has been the response from staff, some of whom have never been able to afford health care before or have put off surgeries due to the expense. Happy and healthy employees committed to a place that cares about them—now that's a good business model.

Details: Biwa, 215 SE 9th Ave.. on the corner of SE 9th and Ash. 503-239-8830.

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Draft horses, working breeds almost lost to the mechanization of farming, are experiencing a resurgence of interest, not just from preservationists and horse breeders, but from young farmers who are integrating them back onto the land. Seen as less expensive and easier on the land than trucks and tractors, they're also used as part of a rotational system of fertilizing and renewing pastures. Oregon is a hotbed of the return of plowing with teams of horses, and you can see these gorgeous creatures doing the work they were bred to do at Heiser Farms' Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Demonstration on Sat., Oct. 26. Some of the best teams in the area will be making an appearance and the farm store and farm activities will be running, so it should be a great day to get out in the country.

Details: Heiser Farms' Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Demonstration. Sat., Oct. 26, 10 am-2 pm; free. Heiser Farms, 21425 SE Grand Island Loop, Dayton. Map.

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When Ben Meyer first started his restaurant-cum-beer parlor Grain & Gristle on NE Prescott, he wanted the menu and pricing to be modest and accessible to we average Joes and Janes. That ethic of accessibility has gone several steps further with his new establishment, Old Salt Marketplace, a combination restaurant, bar and butcher shop. Designed to serve the diverse communities and incomes of its neighborhood, think of it as Laurelhurst Market for the rest of us. Imagine delicious food, simple wood beam construction and affordable prices, and you've got the vibe. Along with its own farmers' market set up on Thursday evenings in the parking lot, it also boasts a cooking school, Good Keuken, owned by Blake van Roekel, formerly of Robert Reynolds' Chef Studio. Offering classes on a wide range of topics from urban foraging to butchering to baking holiday cookies, she's about to debut an innovative series of classes with top Portland chefs, all priced to sell.

Details: Good Keuken, 5031 NE 42nd Ave. 503-753-1655.


Rebecca said...

Totally love what was created at biwa!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Really innovative and transparent. And apparently patrons love it!