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The Garyfallou family: “We love the neighborhood.”
Ekaterini and Thomas Garyfallou drove around Southwest Portland in the late 1970s looking for a restaurant to buy. Thomas Garyfallou had been working as a manager in the restaurant industry for years, but he wanted to be the owner of his own restaurant.
"Any time we passing by, my husband – he has his eyes on that place,” Ekaterini Garyfallou said of her husband’s desire to buy Dave’s Restaurant, which was located at the corner of Southwest Barbur Boulevard and 19th Avenue.
When the restaurant was for sale, the Garyfallous jumped on the opportunity, and renamed it The Golden Touch Family Restaurant.
The Garyfallous moved from Greece in 1971 with their two young boys, who were five and two years old at that time. Ekaterini Garyfallou couldn’t speak English when they opened The Golden Touch, but she learned by greeting customers and raising her bilingual children, who worked at the restaurant as teenagers.
Bill Garyfallou and his brother went to Oregon Episcopal School in Raleigh Hills, then to Reed College in Southeast Portland. “We’re about as homegrown as you can get,” Bill Garyfallou said. “We grew up in this area and we love the neighborhood.”
In addition to hosting every day, Ekaterini Garyfallou cooked Greek specials, including dolmathakia (grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts and fresh herbs), lahanodolmades (cabbage rolls), macaroni with gold pistachios, and Greek lemon rice and chicken soup.
The restaurant was so busy that Ekaterini Garyfallou had to teach one of her cooks how to make the Greek specials. She continued to run the restaurant with the help of her younger son, Bill, when her husband passed away in 1994.
When Bill Garyfallou looks at the restaurant and the land around it, he sees his father’s hard work. “My father primarily came to the United States to provide his children the best education that could possibly be attained – something he knew could not be found anywhere else,” he said. “Therefore, mission accomplished.”
Bill Garyfallou worked a full-time job and still managed to meet his mother at the restaurant every morning and night to open and close.
Slowly the Garyfallous started to acquire the land underneath and around the restaurant, spanning a total of four acres.
The Garyfallous are willing to share a sliver of this land along Barbur Boulevard for proposed transportation projects under the Southwest Corridor Plan – plans that include a light rail.
“When we found out that light rail was going to become a serious consideration on Barbur Boulevard, from a business standpoint, we viewed it as a huge positive,” Bill Garyfallou said.
He and his family have dreams of redeveloping their land with buildings that house businesses and apartments atop. He envisions a community around his property, where people can bike, walk, shop and play.
The Shoepe family: “These businesses are a lifetime.”
Tim Shoepe has worked at his family business, Empire Batteries, Inc., since 1986, when he was 15 years old. At the time, his parents were moving the company into a new building on property they bought along Southwest Bonita Road near 74th Avenue in Tigard.
“I helped with every piece of this building,” Shoepe said, from moving furniture to painting the walls.
The Shoepes couldn’t have been happier with the new location near Interstate-5 and Route 217. It’s an ideal location to welcome customers. The company sells large batteries that range in size from 20 to 150 pounds apiece. They supply auto dealers, boat marinas, and trucking and construction companies among others.
“It was fun for me to drive and deliver products to the companies that we serviced when they needed it,” Shoepe said. “They’d call and say, ‘Hey, I need a battery in 45 minutes,’ and I'd be the guy that would grab the battery and run it out. They'd be happy to see you.”
These days Shoepe runs the company as president alongside his mother, Judy Shoepe. (Gary, his father, retired but stays involved as a shareholder.)
“When we bought this property in 1986, there was about an acre in the back of the building that had no buildings or anything,” Judy Shoepe said. “It was just open land with trees and brush and blackberries.”
So the family decided to develop it to expand their business, with Judy Shoepe leading the effort. They built another building behind Empire Batteries, to create four large commercial rental spaces – more than 19,000 square feet – for small businesses.
The Shoepes lease these spaces through their rental leasing company, T3 Enterprises. They rent to a memorabilia shop, a doggy daycare and training school, and a few other manufacturing businesses.
In addition to overseeing finances for the two businesses, Judy Shoepe does all the landscaping and maintenance. “I know how to fix a door,” she said.
For more than 30 years, this property has been a labor of love. The Shoepes put a lot of work and money to develop it. Last year, the family finished paying off their business mortgage loan.
“It's finally become the investment that we realized that it may be,” Tim Shoepe said. “It's a legacy property. It was built to establish an income stream for our family for years and years and years to come.”
This legacy is at risk at the current location. The family is distressed to learn that a proposed MAX light rail line through the Southwest Corridor may force them to relocate. The project is still in the early planning stages.
The Shoepes feel stuck in a holding pattern until a decision is made. “You can't plan for succession, you can't plan for employees,” Tim Shoepe said. “You can't plan for business improvements.”
“These businesses are a lifetime,” Judy Shoepe said. “It's your history.”
“There is an emotional investment here as well as well as a financial investment,” Tim Shoepe said. “That's going to be a very difficult thing to see the project my parents have worked on all their lives turned into the next piece of civilization.”
The Portland Clinic: Healthcare tailored to communities
The Portland Clinic may be the largest independent clinic in greater Portland - serving more than 90,000 patients - but it operates like a small business. The clinic’s partner-owners have built six branches throughout the region, tailoring each to be close to patients they serve.
“While we’re a nearly 100 year-old business with 100 providers, we treat each of our branches as a community wellness center, so that people feel that their locally-based unique branch is just for them,” said Dick Clark, the clinic’s chief executive officer.
Its two southernmost branches are in Tigard near the retirement communities of Summerfield and King City.
“As people age they need more healthcare,” Clark said, “and so we wanted to be located near Summerfield and King City for that very reason. Additionally, we wanted to be located near the freeway so that people who choose to use a car can get off conveniently and reach our locations.”
Clark thinks both the South branch near Interstate-5 and the Tigard branch near Washington Square would benefit from light rail service. He said the organization supports regional plans to build a new MAX line that would serve the Southwest Corridor.
The clinic employs more than 600 people. About 11 percent take transit, primarily TriMet and Vancouver’s C-TRAN.
Clark said many employees who work at the flagship clinic in downtown Portland likely take transit more often than workers at other branches, because downtown has many travel options that include biking, walking and transit.
Parking in downtown is also expensive. Clark believes expanding the light rail system would help encourage more workers – and patients – all over their locations to take transit.
Clark said the clinic is doing its part to encourage employees to bike and take transit. Each of the branches have locker rooms and bike racks. And employees pay for only half the cost of transit passes. They can also earn points through a healthy lifestyle program that offers discounts on health insurance if they bike or take transit.
Clark said The Portland Clinic continues to keep track of the region’s projected growth. “We have to be strategic and locate in areas where people are served by public transportation as well as where the apartments and higher concentrations of housing will be.”
OHSU: “Nobody does their best work if they’re stuck in traffic.”
Oregon Health & Science University stands atop Marquam Hill in Southwest Portland with 2.3 million square feet of clinics, classes and hospital rooms. The teaching hospital has 522 beds and one of only two Level 1 trauma centers in Oregon.
OHSU is the largest employer in the city of Portland with more than 16,500 employees, many of whom make the trek up the hill for their jobs. The view from OHSU down to the South Waterfront neighborhood is spectacular. The tradeoff is a shortage of parking.
“Given OHSU's location we have a limited number of parking spaces available,” said Michael Harrison, OHSU’s director of local government and neighborhood relations. “Many of those parking spaces are dedicated to patients.”
Harrison said OHSU’s workforce relies on the entire transportation network to get to and from work: buses, streetcars, light rail, bicycle lanes, the Portland Aerial Tram and walkways such as the Darlene Hooley Bridge over Interstate-5.
The Southwest Corridor Plan includes a proposed light rail line with a stop near OHSU and a walkway and elevator to travel up Marquam Hill. A light rail stop in that location would serve more than just the OHSU community. The area is also home to two other medical facilities: Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Veterans Portland Health Care System.
Harrison said this investment would be especially beneficial for anyone traveling from the Southwest Corridor because there is no direct stop at OHSU from that direction.
“You'll pass by OHSU often times on the bus to go all the way downtown to transfer to another bus and come up the hill,” Harrison said.
Nearly a fifth of the lives south of Portland. Some live nearby in the neighborhoods of Hillsdale, Multnomah Village and South Waterfront. Others commute from the cities of Tigard, Tualatin and Lake Oswego.
The employees in the Southwest Corridor are more likely to drive, often getting stuck in traffic around the Terwilliger curves.
“Nobody does their best work if they're stuck in traffic,” Harrison said. “No one does their best work if they have to get up an hour earlier because they have to transfer multiple times on the bus.”
The benefits of the project would be shared with people who live and work beyond the Southwest Corridor, too, Harrison said. “This light rail line will connect you to the entire light rail network.”
Harrison believes that fast reliable transit is an essential part of personal and social wellness. Individuals and the greater community would benefit from less traffic and cleaner air.
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Learn more about the Southwest Corridor Plan.