Leo’s Non-Smoking Café. A small, classic diner, situated on a side street near downtown Portland.
The restaurant has been there since the Medical Dental building first opened in the 1930’s or early 40’s. It was an easy stop for business men, and secretaries on their way up to work on weekdays. Some people came for coffee, while others had long luncheons and meetings.
After a few decades of consistent business, the owner decided to retire. He did so by selling his café to a young business student from Portland State University. Peter.
Peter had moved to Portland from China in the 1970‘s, with the intention of going to school, and possibly owning his a business. His dream of owning a business came true in 1980, when he purchased Leo’s.
Paying homage to history, he left the interior nearly untouched from the original. And of course, the window signs of “Non-Smoking Café” maintained their rightful place.
He eventually married a woman he had fallen madly in love with, who had also moved from Asia. In time, she found her place as the cook, and Peter situated himself in the front of house.
Just the two of them. Never anyone else for over 20 years. They alone managed and operated Leo’s.
Now they’re falling on harder times. The economy has dipped to record lows, and the businessmen and women aren’t as plentiful as they once were. There are vacant offices, and failing businesses filling the building now. And in the mix and confusion, Leo’s Non-Smoking Café has began to become a figure of the past. Lingering on to a less than desirable demise.
It’s sad to see, and painful to know how hard Peter has worked. Now it’s fading away into a time since past. What’s sadder is to know that people feel there isn’t time for places like “Leo’s” anymore. They’re too busy with their coffee shops and chain restaurants. Now it’s expected that places like “Leo’s” will just step out of the way, and vanish.
That’s not what we need though. We need more places like Peter’s little place. A breakfast stop where you can get eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and a drink for less than $5.00. Somewhere to chat with friends, and become entangled in the old romances of a place with so much history and devotion.
Give Leo’s a try. If you’re not in Portland, Oregon, then find the place’s like “Leo’s” in your town or city. There’s likely one just around the corner from you.
Leo’s Non-Smoking Café is located on the NW corner of 11th and Taylor, in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Pay them a visit, and tell them Beau sent you.