Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quick Hits: Ps and Qs Market

Once upon a time your neighborhood market was a little mom-and-pop place where neighbors could pick up a quart of milk or a loaf of bread and their kids could stop in with a dime and buy candy. The owners would often live above the store and their kids went to school with your kids. Those small businesses eventually disappeared with the advent of so-called convenience markets like 7 Eleven and Plaid Pantry that were packed with snack foods, sodas and cigarettes and weren't the sort of places you wanted your children hanging out in.

Now small markets are popping up in neighborhoods again, stocked with dry goods, milk, cheese and bread, some even featuring a café with a deli and homemade soups and sandwiches. Ps and Qs Market, in the DIY spirit that is taking root and growing a new business district in Northeast Portland's Woodlawn neighborhood, is a shout-out to those little stores of yesteryear.

The mom and pop in this case are Emily Anderson and Paul Davis, a young couple who enlisted friends and family to transform an abandoned storefront church into a neighborhood market, a piece they felt was missing from the puzzle of the developing area. (Their endearingly sincere Kickstarter video tells you just how committed these folks are.)

Open from lunch through dinner, with the requisite weekend brunch hours, these two are no babes in the woods. Anderson came from managing Bryan Steelman's ¿Por Que No? and Davis cooked for years at various small restaurants around town, Bröder and Podnah's among them.

With light pouring into the space from the big windows on its face, the front is the coffee shop and deli where residents can grab a cup of joe and share the latest gossip over a pastry or sandwich. The bulk goods, produce and large refrigerated cases of milk, cheese and other fresh items line the side and rear walls, with the bustling open kitchen and service counter taking up the center of the room.

Our lunch there was on a quiet day, with neighbors stopping to chat and pat the heads of children and dogs, an unshackled bicycle leaning casually against the building. We shared soup (a Latin-inflected tomato-and-bean with corn dumplings) and a couple of sandwiches (pulled pork for Dave, rosy house-roasted beef for me). We sat outside in the shade of the awning, feeling like this little bootstrap of a market is just the kind of place that makes our city a good place to live. Which includes the local kids who stop in for red vines for a dime.

Details: Ps and Qs Market, 1301 NE Dekum St. 503-894-8979.

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