Just over five years ago, Ian and Lora Whitley Bramson drove up and down Northeast Fremont Street between their “fixer home” in Alberta to the west and their daughter’s child care to the east. “We were engaged in private catering and raising a family,” said Lora Whitley Bramson, “and we noticed that this little restaurant on Fremont and 50th had closed.” Further research uncovered the restaurant was for sale, so the couple jumped at the chance to begin their own business.
On February 1, 2010, Eclectic Kitchen opened at 4936 N.E. Fremont St. and business has been steadily improving every year. On a recent weekday, a customer reserved a corner of the dining area for “a celebration breakfast for fifteen,” and two more customers walked in who had never been there. To them, head waiter Mike Boyle issued a simple greeting: “Coffee and water are self-serve, have a seat anywhere and I’ll be right over to take your order.”
Lora Whitley Bramson said she and Ian met while working for a health-food chain. They both attended New York’s Culinary Institute of America and got entry-level experience working for a major bakery in Lower Manhattan and at an East Indian restaurant. Their culinary philosophy is “real food,” eschewing processed foods, and she said Eclectic Kitchen is a true “mom and pop” business.
Daily specials are listed on blackboards outside and inside, and the restaurant web site, www.eclectickitchenpdx.com, touts “local-seasonal-comfort food” and has breakfast and lunch menus. One item served, gluten-free bread and biscuits, is rarely available in restaurants.
“Ian was raised in London, and his mother was West Indian—his cooking has a West Indian flavor,” Lora Whitley Bramson confided. She said they had considered other names for the business but decided on Eclectic Kitchen, one they had picked early on. The first five years, the couple has been able to operate between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the afternoon six days weekly (closed Mondays) with just one employee, but they just hired an additional cook and a waitress so they can open Friday and Saturday evenings for a “Weekend Supper Club.”
Moving into their sixth year, Lora Whitley Bramson said they may also be going for a seven-day week. “We’re 98-percent sure we’re going to open on Mondays, too.” She said she’s pleased with how business has been improving and looks forward every day to meeting new customers.
Eclectic Kitchen owners Ian and Lora Whitley Bramson, front, and head waiter Mike Boyle get ready for the restaurant’s sixth year in the Beaumont-Wilshire Business District, bordering Cully and Rose City Park neighborhoods. Steadily improving business and a stream of new customers have moved them to expand hours for a Weekend Supper Club on Friday and Saturday evenings. (Phill Colombo)