In with the new

By Brian Duff  |  December 22, 2009

The American economic bubble expanded and collapsed on the backs of the hard-working and underpaid lower classes. In post-bubble America the workers will likely be more suspicious and assertive. This could be the case in Portland's restaurants as well — as suggested by a recent labor protest outside the Front Room. It was sad to hear allegations this summer that workers were being profoundly mistreated at the South Portland restaurant Great Wall — constrained to slum-dormitory conditions, paid illegal wages, and threatened with deportation if they complained. It is inspiring, however, that the workers managed to organize and protest despite these threats.

The last decade saw Portland become a terrific food town thanks to talent, hard work, and good fortune. If Portland's restaurant scene has achieved heights no one would have predicted, the next few years will likely bring some predictable complications. At the top of the bubble things can get pretty weird, and there will likely be many folks opening restaurants that they simply shouldn't. Anyone who does will confront an online community of food-obsessives who have sometimes gotten downright ugly this year — with personal attacks, off-kilter rants, and ill-advised opening-night reviews. In such an environment, and with so many great restaurants already established in our small city, it's a wonder anyone has the guts to open another. They will though. They always do. In the meantime, even if Portland's food scene has peaked, let's do our best to enjoy ourselves (and be fair to each other) on the way down.

Brian Duff can be reached at

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: Features , Entertainment, Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   A LITTLE WHINE  |  September 05, 2014
    The lessons of Lolita are that something simpler and less challenging can be lovely, and that some cheap wine could really loosen things up.
  •   TACOS ON THE TOWN  |  August 31, 2014
    While there’s no class mobility in this town, we do have taco mobility—even taco-class mobility.
  •   COPING WITH ADULTHOOD  |  August 07, 2014
    The neighborhood’s newish Central Provisions is grown up. But it also embodies our ambivalence about adulthood, and our persistent hope that a few more drinks will help us cope with it.
  •   PATHS TO GREATNESS  |  July 31, 2014
    India, like the American university, is mostly in the news these days for its bloated and ineffective administration and an epidemic of underprosecuted sexual assault. But let’s not give up on either—India or college—as a source of wisdom and repository of culture.
  •   THE QUAY TO GOOD LIVING  |  July 11, 2014
    Though they offer an appealing moral clarity, in practice zero tolerance policies have ruined any number of urban schools, fragile marriages, and card-marred soccer games. Zero tolerance almost ruined Portland a few years back, too.

 See all articles by: Brian Duff