Welcome to our new blog series Schoolhouse Spaces. Here we highlight local venues and places that we've worked with to provide lighting or interior design elements. It's a chance for us to get to know our trade partners even more and share the inspiration behind their spaces with you. First up is the newly opened Locale in Portland, OR. Not content to just do one or the other, Locale is a coffee house, wine bar and secret spot for the vermouth-obsessed.
Tell us a little about Locale.
"Locale is a neighborhood cafe & bar serving delicious Heart coffee and espresso beverages along with house-made sandwiches, salads and small snacks. Baked goods and sweets are provided by local baker, Jennifer Plitzko, of Heim.A rotating beer and wine selection of international and regional favorites accompany a robust vermouth program, featuring a variety of aromatized wines and aperitivo cocktails."
Where does the name come from?
"Locale's name came from an auspicious conversation between the two of us upon the first day of planning. Locale as a name refers not only to something "local," but more specifically to a place where something happens and that is exactly what Locale is. It is a place where anything goes, day or night; it is a place for people to enjoy and indulge in life's offerings with an approachable sense of elegance. Erik's favorite bar while living in Prague was called Lokal, the decision was easy!"
What inspired you to open a neighborhood spot like this?
"Both of us have backgrounds in either coffee, restaurants and bars, and even the beer industry. Dustin had a long stint at Wandering Goat Coffee as a barista and trainer in Eugene, OR before moving to Portland to work at two of Portland's toptier drinking establishments: Heart Coffee and the Multnomah Whiskey Library. Erik was an early employee at Eugene's Ninkasi Brewing Co. before spending time as a bartender for Izakaya Meiji in Eugene. Locale truly came out of many discussions over a period of years outlining what we love and find lacking in the service industry. In both our travels, we fell in love with the neighborhood cafes and bar culture of Europe and Asia. Noticing this shortage here in Portland, we basically created the place from a blend of our favorite industries—a place we both wanted to be everyday."
What is your partnership like? Who does what, and how do you guys balance each other out?
"Our partnership hinges on mutual respect and appreciation. We've been friends a long time and this is reflected in our working relationship. We are both intimately involved in all of Locale's operations and it's difficult to think of separate job duties. Dustin certainly has a more intimate connection to the coffee program, and perhaps the beer is a reflection of Erik's tastes, but it all truly comes down to the partnership being comprehensive. Our strengths and weaknesses are a perfect compliment to each other, mostly in that we both find ourselves helping the other realize our ambitions through love and pride in what we accomplish together."
What type of look and feel were you going for with Locale's overall design?
"We wanted a place that would simultaneously conjure up images of the elegant old world cafes and bars we loved, but wouldn’t feel out of place or pretentious in a new and modern building. To achieve this, we turned to a classic palette of clean, beautiful woodwork and traditional hex tiles, with a padded bench and bent wood chairs."
What drew you to using Schoolhouse fixtures for your space?
"Schoolhouse lighting evokes a nostalgic feeling of a time when things were made to last, and we expect our cafe to age as gracefully as a patina on metal shade. The fixtures and shades we chose work together to warmly illuminate our small intimate space."
Tell us some of your favorite spots in Portland from a design perspective.
"Naturally the Multnomah Whiskey Library and Heart Coffee’s two cafes will always be among our favorites given Dustin’s time working at both, and there are elements of each that have inspired Locale."￼
The best drink order in Locale? Any secrets we should know about?
"'Bittersweet Winter' A hot drink to get us through the cold. Rich with winter spices, citrus, local vermouth and curiosity. It may not be on the menu, but we always have it. A well pulled shot of Heart espresso, served alongside a deliciously herbal aperitif: Byrrh"
What can you get at Locale that you can’t get anywhere else?
"This town is known for its cafe and bar culture, but it often stops short at one or the other. At Locale, everything we offer, we offer morning till night, complete with table service and outstanding customer service. When people walk in they are greeted like a regular and allowed to sit down and order like at a restaurant. There’s a little something for everyone, from a well-curated list of beers, wines and vermouths to handmade cafe fare and delicious coffee beverages. In the end, we hope people will leave feeling like they had a world-class experience at an affordable price."
Who (besides you) should we follow on Instagram? We’re always looking for recommendations.
@Heartroasters - For daily coffee inspiration
@Nethington - Friend and local artist responsible for the art hanging on our walls
@Allisonullmerjewelry - Friend and fantastic local jeweler
@Handeyesupply - Curator and maker of many trade essentials
@Meghan_Plowman - Art Director with a great eye for design
@Snowpeakusa - Simple design for the outdoor enthusiasts
@Pistilsnursery - Supplier and cultivator of interior jungles
@Marshallsteeves - Positive and uplifting design advocate
@Travelportland - The source for all things Portland
@Synesso_factory - Glorious Espresso machines
@Clivecoffee - A great curator of highend home coffee gear