Will Congress Square become the new Monument Square? One restaurateur thinks so. Tom Bard of Zapoteca is banking that the corner of High and Congress streets will soon capture the city’s heartbeat.
This month he is finalizing the lease for Toroso, the new Spanish joint he is opening with his chef/wife Shannon Bard in the old Schwartz Building.
Under this graffitied scaffolding, a light-filled, 20-foot-high soaring space with massive windows will open this fall. Kitty corner from the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, Toroso will offer table-side sangria and traditional tapas from Sevilla.
“It will be noisy, vibrant and busy,” said Bard, who envisions sidewalk seating to create the madness of Madrid in the emerging arts district.
“I want people to feel the city. Portland has a heartbeat and it’s getting better and better and better.”
And pulsating down Congress Street.
Vinland is drawing crowds, as is the Top of the East. Monument Square will always have David’s, but judging from the vacant office buildings and key store fronts like Wannawaf languishing for months, is it still the city’s center?
We know the food at Toroso will be top-notch, but the ambiance may trump the cuisine. The building’s interior is being lovingly restored. Marble and exposed girders will make the tapas emporium the most stylish perch in town.
When High Street becomes two ways, look out!
“Portland reminds me of Faneuil Hall 20 years ago,” said Bard.