August 30, 2017

Proud Mary Café

A conversation three years ago with Nolan Hirt and myself at the Cafe Culture USA office in Portland about Nolan’s vision to transport his Australian winning café concept to the USA has finally come to fruition. Nolan and his team have built a new version of Proud Mary cafe in one of Portland Oregon’s trendiest streets, which opened this July.

It was a proud moment for me as an Aussie café person when I was sitting at the cafe table and I could hear the moaning of a gentleman sitting on the table next to us salivating with pleasure as he sunk his mouth into Proud Mary’s famous Potato Hash. I still remember the same experience for me when I did this for the first time at his Collingwood site in Melbourne.

Café Culture set up an office in Portland four years ago and the one thing we all missed in America was an Australian Café that completed the full service model. Great Food, Great service and Great coffee, the three G’s. Portland has some of the best hospitality businesses in the USA, but still no café setup like Proud Mary that is totally focused to the customer fulfillment and total satisfaction.

I visited the Proud Mary site a few months back when Nolan and his Dad were busy getting their hands dirty building not only the café but also all the furniture. The café boasts an amazing under bench espresso system designed and built by Synesso in the hand built concrete bar area. The café has two new Probat Roasters on display that will supply some of Proud Mary’s famous estate coffees that have been sourced from one of the many origin trips Nolan and his coffee team have embarked on. We were lucky to Pre trial an amazing Panama Geisha straight out of the Roaster. Nolan is a freak when it comes to picking amazing coffees and this is going to rock the socks of the Portland Coffee geeks.

Proud Mary’s kitchen is my favorite part of this business model and his clever chefs push their fine dining quality restaurant food served into brunch style café service. The menu leans heavily to the Portland lifestyle with lots of Vegetarian choices. I chose the Pork Belly which was cut into a round and served on amazing Asian flavoured wild mushrooms.

The café is set in an old Taqueria in the Centre of Alberta Street, which is home to other iconic businesses like Salt and Straw, Bunk Sandwich and Little Big Burger. The fit out is very open plan with good use of the old timber building exposing the timber ceiling and using lots of cool wood paneling in the design. Nolan and his Team built an amazing concrete bar as the centrepiece to the design and is the home for his coffee brewing systems. The streetscape is all windows, which lets a generous amount of light into the building highlighting the space and making all the design features shine through.

I was pleasantly surprised by the happy greeting we received when we entered the café and the smiles and excitement from the floor staff, which was real. This is what’s going to make the Proud Mary concept a success in the USA. I have made this prediction for a while that cafes models like Proud Mary’s are the standard for the global café concept. I cant wait to send our Golden Bean Delegates enjoy this space in September and we wish Proud Mary’s the best for the future of world café domination.

2012 NE Alberta Street, Portland, Oregon

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