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August 23, 2019

Suddenly, several Portland eateries shut their doors

Photo / William Hall Silly's, a Portland restaurant in business since 1988, will close permanently Sept. 1.

While new entries continue to pop up in Portland’s hot restaurant market, a few older spots are abruptly closing down. 

Two longtime fixtures in the city’s dining scene, Silly’s restaurant at 40 Washington Ave. and Brian Boru Public House at 57 Center St., will soon shut their doors.

Brian Boru’s owner, Daniel Steele, will close his pub for the last time at 1 a.m. Monday, according to a Facebook post today, after 26 years in business. Silly’s, which opened in 1988, will close Sept. 1, according to a post Wednesday by Colleen Kelley, who runs the eclectic, funky restaurant and owns its buildings with her sister Shelley.

Kelley said they've sold the property, but didn't name the buyer.

Last weekend, a few doors away at 68 Washington Ave., she closed her other small eatery, Simply Vegan by Silly’s.

In her post, Kelley said she was “exhausted” by work at Silly’s and the challenges of dealing with the city of Portland. “Another huge factor in my decision is, it is that I am smart enough to know my business model won’t work in a city destined to be Seattle,” she also wrote.

She said her post wasn’t meant to be a “slam,” but that she refuses to charge $24 “for 4 oz. of dip and some pita bread.”

"I am going to bow out gracefully of the new hipster artisan Washington Avenue that I really don’t fit into anymore," she wrote.

Kelley’s businesses are located near a growing number of dining destinations, including Drifters Wife, which ranked No. 9 last year on Bon Appétit magazine’s list of the best new restaurants in the U.S.

Silly’s and Simply Vegan are also neighbors with Terlingua, a Mexican-food restaurant that opened a few years ago and recently has received its own attention from national press.

In downtown Portland, Brian Boru isn’t saying much about the decision to close. The Facebook post expressed gratitude to the pub’s “loyal patrons, vendors, and the City of Portland for their decades of support.”

Earlier this month, another Portland culinary business, Scattoloni Bakery in Monument Square, also shut down.

In a letter to customers posted at the store, owner Andrea Swanson said the closure was due to rising expenses, landlord difficulties and the high cost of living and doing business in Portland. Swanson said she is relocating her operations to the former Pepperell Mill in Biddeford.

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August 24, 2019
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