The Grinder that Never Was

Early in the planning stages for the first Organ Grinder, the founders used an architecture firm which specialized in restaurants and hotels.

The design was very conventional – a rectangular building, with the entrance and kitchen at the front, and the organ at the back.

No towering windows showing off the pipes to the street, no mezzanine, no entrance queue.

Had it been built, would this version have succeeded? Perhaps. There were already other successful pizza parlors with pipe organs in operation which, aside from the novelty of having a pipe organ, were similar to any other family dining establishment. But, it is difficult to imagine that an “ordinary” Organ Grinder would’ve garnered the fame and attention, nor such a revered place in people’s hearts.

The floor plan pictured was found in a scrapbook kept by Organ Grinder co-founder Paul Forchuk. The plans indicate a location at SE 39th & Holgate in Portland. (Now SE Cesar Chavez & Holgate). Exactly which corner is not indicated. There are commercial buildings there today, but none with this form factor.

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