Featured in the May 2003 Issue

Written by: Pat Sheehan

One of the neatest poolrooms that I service is Touché Pizza and Pool at 1425 NW Glisan just off 405 in Portland. It has excellent food, drinks and pool tables. The restaurant is on the first floor, pool and drinks on the second floor at the top of a winding staircase. Six 4 ½ x 9 Olhausen Pool tables with Simonis cloth wait at the top of the staircase. There is plenty of space between tables and no walls to hit with your cue.

The building is a story in itself. Engine #3 of the Portland Fire Department roared out of the front door behind powerful horses. In my early days in this business, there were many small stations around the state and every one had a pool table. As the horses were replaced by trucks, and the districts consolidated, the older buildings were replaced by multi-units. This fine building went on the block and in the 80's it became a restaurant. Dale Dollivars first attempt led to failure and was taken over by Romos in 1991. It was not a success either and a couple of very successful Armenian restaurant owners from Eugene decided to give it a try. Zareh Marashlian and Armen Kerrekian along with Frank Ernandes decided to change everything in the building and open a Mediterranean style, very well appointed restaurant. Zareh was given the task of setting the tone.

The entire building was gutted and for 9 months Zareh oversaw each detail of the work. A potbelly brick oven was sent over from Italy. It is the center of every Italian Pizza Restaurant. It has a slate bottom (excellent choice) with a special ceramic core and it does Pizza and Cal zone like no other oven can. It is fired by hardwoods in a precise blend to give the right aroma to the flamed crusts.

All the seating and fixtures were specially designed and installed. The curved staircase to the second floor was redesigned and was opened for a huge party for John Nicholas to which I was invited. The booth and finishing touches were added as we sat outside. The place was spectacular but was still not enough to make the magic for a winner. After 2 ½ years the doors were again closed, Zareh was sure that if they managed the place themselves and found the right key it could work.

That key was pool. Zareh went back to Eugene and argued with the other partners who had every reason not to go ahead. Finally they said "Touché" to his sword like arguments and it was "Touché" back to Portland and the poolroom addition was on and either Zareh or Armen watched the business grow from then on. They watched every detail from the menu to the club's involvement with the community. The food and service improved and the pool tables were constantly full. The fire in the oven burns constantly except to clean the flue. The first Thursday every month they set out a feast of Tapa's or Spanish appetizers at $3.50 a plate and they have Zareh's Gyros from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM and 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM for $2.00. They have a full menu. If you sit down to eat it takes time because everything is made from scratch, but unless you go to the Mediterranean you will not have a better meal.

The pool tables are covered with Simonis cloth every year and we clean and shampoo them on a regular basis. Stop in and tell them Pat sent you. You will enjoy the experience Touché.

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