Heisler and Rosenberg in front of Half and Half
  • Heisler and Rosenberg in front of Half and Half

After a ten year run, the quirky downtown cafe Half and Half [923 SW Oak] has been sold and will close on April 30th. In a interview with the Mercury, owners Robin Rosenberg and Jeff Heisler noted it was simply time to move on, but admitted the decision was bittersweet.

"The Half and Half has turned into an institution, and that's been great, but we've learned the hard way that it can't run itself [without us]. It needs to be an owner operated place," says Rosenberg, whose job with Wieden + Kennedy has kept her from the daily operations at the cafe. Her lack of involvement in the management of the business is cited by both her and Heisler as one of the motivating factors to sell the popular coffee shop.

For his part, Heisler feels he's outgrown the business. "Several years ago it was easy to come here because everyone was my age," he explains. "But now our customer base are under the age of 26. There's nothing wrong with that for but me, personally, I'd rather be someplace with my peers." To that end, he has plans to open a new bar slated to be named Mr. Choi's Choi Burger, offering pinball, sake, sochu, and "Asian style sandwiches and noodle soups."

The closure is sure to be a blow to customers who have fallen in love with the Half and Half's regularly changing menu of sandwiches and pies, as well as the intimacy and eccentricity of the shop.

"I had two customers cry today when I told them," says Heisler. "I feel guilty, but I'm also excited to be doing something new."

"I think that we really tried to keep it going," adds Rosenberg. "What we realized is that we can't do what we need to do to evolve and get into our forties and keep this place going."

The pair are planning closing festivities over the next two weeks with a final party to be thrown on Friday, April 30th.

Look for the full story in next week's Mercury and stay tuned to Blogtown for more details of Half and Half closing events.

UPDATE: It appears this story was first broken on the @pdxcoffeehouse Twitter feed.

UPDATE 10:30 am: Hit the jump for the press release just received by Robin Rosenberg.

On April 30th 2010, the Half & Half cafe will be closing shop after a nearly
10 year run. Owners Robin Rosenberg and Jeff Heisler have decided to pursue
new paths in and out of the food industry.

Rosenberg opened Half & Half in October of 2000 with then-partner Keith
Crowe. Originally christened Crowsenberg's Half & Half, it was among a small
handful of locally-owned cafes to service the Downtown and Pearl communities
in the early '00's. Thanks to the dynamic energy of the North Pacific
Building's other retail tenants like Reading Frenzy, Counter Media,
Palookaville, Velo Shop, Billie Galaxie and Jackpot records, Half and Half
developed into a enclave for artists, musicians and creative misfits
throughout Portland.

In 2002, Keith Crowe left operations and Jeff Heisler joined Robin in
running the business and expanding the menu. Half & Half's contributions to
Portland's restaurant and coffee culture include Southern-style sweet tea, a
revolving menu of over 300 sandwiches with painstakingly curated names,
handmade pies, homemade oreos and, maybe most importantly, deviled eggs.
You can spot Half & Half in Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, a YACHT video, and
most recently, a commercial for the Oregon Lottery.

Friday April 30th will be an all-day closing celebration. Customers are
encouraged to contribute memories and photos for a zine through the Half &
Half USA group on Facebook. Customer portraits will be taken from 8am until
close. Closing time will be determined by the depletion of sandwiches,
deviled eggs and Miller High Lifes.

Since 2007, Half & Half has served their favorite pick-me-up,
locally-roasted and bicycle-delivered Courier Coffee. Joel Domries of
Courier Coffee Roasters will be taking over the space at 923 SW Oak St.
Robin and Jeff would thank their staff and their customers for making Half &
Half a place that could only exist in a city like Portland, with the
beautiful people who sustained and supported it.