Chez José has been feeding the Burlingame neighborhood in Portland Oregon for more than three and a half decades.
Owners Howie Schechter and Tom Midrano Jr. opened Chez José in 1987 on what they described as a “shoestring budget.” Over the years, the restaurant built up a solid reputation in the neighborhood, which undoubtedly helped them survive a devastating fire in 2001.
Decades later, Chez José survived yet another incredibly difficult challenge: COVID and the series of closures and service restrictions that followed. While the business made it through the worst of the pandemic, it’s ultimately going to be undone by the disruption to the hospitality industry that was triggered by the global health emergency as well as the upended labor market.
Mark Byrum and his wife own Urban Restaurant Group. They have a dozen locations in Metro Portland and Eugene. When they heard the restaurant was closing, they decided adding Chez José to their group would be special.
“It’s one of our favorite restaurants in the entire city of Portland,” Byrum said. “My wife and I started dining here in 1994. We lived down the street, we would come here two to three times a week, and when we moved, once or twice a month. There are servers that work here that know our children who are now in their 20s all the way through the progression.”
Chez José will keep the same menu. Urban Restaurant Group is just going to continue the legacy as-is.