After the abrupt closure of Magoo’s Bar and Grill in the Cully neighborhood forced manager Gina Landtiser out of a job in July, she has landed across the street in a sweet spot at Roses Ice Cream.
Lew Evans, second-generation owner of the family restaurant and beloved neighborhood institution, attended a community forum hosted by Our 42nd Avenue District Manager Michael DeMarco at the Magoo’s site shortly before the bar’s closure. Landtiser was in tears at the time and unsure of what her next move might be or how she would continue to support her large family.
Evans offered Landtiser a job the next day.
“I’d heard good things about Gina from Michael DeMarco,” said Evans “I knew she was available. It was a great fit.”
“I was speechless,” said Landtiser. “When Lew came to me, I was ecstatic. Maybe my kids could work here someday, the same way Lew did with his family. It’s like a dream for me. It really is.”
Evans, who owns the building at 5011 N.E. 42nd Ave., plans to retire in the next couple of years, or at least reduce his day-to-day involvement.
As Landtiser manages the restaurant, learns the ropes and builds her scooping muscles, the opportunity is on the table for her to someday purchase the business outright. She is working with DeMarco and Derecus Slade at Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon to secure funding and formulate a business plan. Landtiser intends to keep the basic menu and ice cream that have earned Roses its reputation, but she has some new ideas too.
“I’d like to start serving breakfast,” she said. “A diner-style breakfast. And I’d like to have pies. A big wall of pies. My first job was working at a bakery in St. Johns called Tulips.”
Landtiser grew up in North Portland and is a Roughrider from Roosevelt High School. She has seven children: Jeffrey, Ashley, Michael, Elexis, Gabrelle, Alexandria and Isabella. Five of her kids are still at home. Her oldest, Jeffrey, is a professional BMX rider. Her youngest, Isabella, is six.
Before managing Magoo’s, Gina worked at another of Ralph Tidwell’s restaurants, Big Daddy’s, and as a surgical assistant at Kaiser Hospital. She’s also owned her own business, Boom Boom’s Balloons on Lombard, and worked for the infamous Frank Peters at Peter’s Inn.
Landtiser has since moved across town, but most of her kids went to Rigler while the family lived in a home that was only a few blocks away from the home where Evans grew up.
Evans also has experience with a large family. He and his five older sisters Jeanne, Jane, Sandy, Debbie and Kate (who passed away a few years ago) all worked in the restaurant in its original location on Fremont while growing up. Roses opened in that spot in 1950 and Evans’ parents bought the business in 1968. Evans’ father made the ice cream while his mother managed the restaurant and the kids worked behind the counter. The family would go out together to pick berries and peaches, gather walnuts and other local fruits for the ice cream.
The family also owned a concession stand at Rooster Rock, and Evans spent more time working there as a teenager than he did in the Fremont shop. He went on to a career with Standard Insurance while his sister took the helm at the family’s restaurant in 1979. The family sold the business in 1994 and three years later it closed its doors and the building was torn down.
In 2007 the family purchased the former Chen’s Chinese Restaurant and re-opened Roses in its present location, a few blocks from the original address and they’ve resumed making ice cream and burgers using traditional methods and family recipes.
Evans says flipping burgers and scooping ice cream isn’t all that different from the project management work he did for twenty years at the Standard Insurance Company.
“It’s all about timing,” he said. “What’s the critical path? What’s the next step?”
Now, it seems it’s Landtiser’s turn to pick up the torch. Or the cone.
“The nice thing is you’re working for yourself,” Evans said. “It’s a lot of hours, but they’re your hours. And you get to make ice cream.”