By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
Now they have a clientele that comes early in the day for eggs Benedict, perhaps with salmon or pepper-bacon under the hollandaise sauce. By lunch it might be a pulled pork sandwich or Dungeness crab cakes.
For dinner, Loren said, regulars often ask for oysters or the fresh fish selection. Some like the chicken picatta or butternut squash ravioli.
The soups are always good, said Lynn Spruill, who has been coming to Milo’s with his wife, Susan, since the first week the business opened. Hungarian mushroom soup is always on the menu; and a daily special is available, too.
Loren and Marianne met working in a restaurant in Seattle; and, she said, “We knew we were destined to own a restaurant.”
That was despite Loren’s degree in communications from the University of Washington, which he hoped would open the door to a career in television photography. However, television stations were reducing staff in the 1980s; and, when the couple moved to Portland to be near Marianne’s family, Loren already was an experienced cook. He readily found work in several kitchens over a period of years and eventually became a restaurant manager.
“My goal was to open this restaurant before I turned 40,” Loren said. “We opened it when I was 39. Marianne and I quit our jobs, even though we had three little kids.”
Restaurant reviewers raved about the breakfasts in local newspapers, which the Skoglands clipped and framed for wall decor. A television weatherman liked Milo’s, too; and often did his morning broadcasts from the restaurant.
“They helped us get started,” Loren said. “A lot of civic leaders came in, too. After that, you have to do good work and prove yourself to all these people.”
It’s paid off for Milo’s, which draws regular customers from surrounding neighborhoods, surrounding suburbs and beyond.
Mary Ann Hoyt has been a regular for breakfast since she started visiting children and grandchildren in Portland 10 years ago.
“I’m bi-coastal,” she said, explaining that she usually lives in western Massachusetts where her family has a business, but she has a nearby apartment, too.
“It’s great food,” she said of Milo’s, where she sometimes conducts business with a notepad over a second cup of coffee as the morning crowd begins to thin. “I always enjoy being in Portland. Lynn Spruill said, “Loren wants you to go to Milo’s when you’re happy and when you’re down. They will support you either way. It’s a family comfort place.”
Loren describes his 33 employees as “my family,” too. While some restaurant owners lament a high turnover in kitchen and wait staff, Loren said he’s been lucky in retaining his employees for several years. A few even worked with him in other restaurants, then followed him to Milo’s.
Of course, some really are relatives. The couple’s three children, now in their 20s, have worked in the restaurant along with cousins. Even the name is part of the family.
Before opening the restaurant, Marianne said, the couple made a list of about 200 names. She happened to suggest her father’s name – Milo – and Loren said, ““That’s it!” she related.
Some new customers arrive with maps provided by local hotels, Loren said. “I see Milo’s in dark print on the maps,” he said. “We’re lucky and I’m proud that the concierges trust us and recommend us to guests.”
Their real estate agent told Brooke and Jim Herout about Milo’s five years ago when they bought their first house in the neighborhood, and they’ve been coming for meals ever since.
“I love their waffles,” Brooke Herout said.
“It’s all good,” said Jim Herout.
Loren admits he felt some pride when public officials started coming to Milo’s. One day Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., came into the restaurant; and Loren was having a good discussion with him when the dishwasher broke.
“There I was, going from a conversation with a U.S. Congressman to lying on my back in the kitchen, trying to get the dishwasher working again,” Loren said, chuckling at the memory. “It put things in perspective.”
For more information: Milo’s City Café, 1325 N.E. Broadway, (503) 288-MILO, miloscitycafe.com.