Portland/ Food & Drinks
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Published on March 01, 2024
Portland's Pho Gabo Vietnam Kitchen Shuts Amid Odor Complaints, ORLA Calls for Code ReviewSource: Google Street View

The savory scent of Vietnamese cuisine has sparked a stink in Portland as a local restaurant, Pho Gabo Vietnam Kitchen, was compelled to close its doors over an alleged odor violation. The shutdown followed an unnamed neighbor's complaint, leading the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) to demand that the city reexamine its "smell" code.

A notice plastered on the restaurant's entrance informed patrons of the temporary closure, attributing it to grievances from both the city and neighborhood over the aromas of grilled foods served within. Despite the setback, Pho Gabo still caters to diners at two other locations in Happy Valley and Hillsboro, as reported by KATU News. Eddie Dong, the owner of Pho Gabo, expressed his frustration, insisting he has pulled out all stops to minimize the smell.

However, the ORLA is taking the matter further, strongly criticising the manner in which the city's odor code is enforced. Jason Brandt, the association's president, argued that the process for measuring odor offenses is not as clear-cut as, say, quantifying noise complaints via decibel levels. "It's unbelievable that an anonymous person's repeated complaints about an odor can shut down an entire restaurant, potentially displacing its workers and causing the operator irreparable financial harm," Brandt told WSAZ.

Proposals by the city such as installing odor scrubbers were mentioned but are costly, and as Brandt pointed out, they only reduce smells, not remove them completely. The ongoing dispute over the olfactory offense brings to light the struggle between local businesses and a regulation that some see as overly subjective and potentially damaging to livelihoods. Reports noted that this is not a solitary incident; the city had previously inspected Pho Gabo numerous times before levelling fines against it for violating city codes related to odors, as detailed by KTVL.