Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Red Robe tea shop Old Town - a Non Sequitur

The Oregonian article was mostly about the tea shop, but there was more to it even though unintentional. A tea shop one block from the one in Lu San Chinese Garden? Louis Lee: "We're trying to find the formula for success in Chinatown." He might well want to rethink that a few more times.

A another tea shop in a true Chinatown like that in San Francisco might well make sense. This shop is in Old Town that is located in neighborhood misnamed as Old Town/Chinatown. A Chinatown Gate doesn't a Chinatown make. There is next to zero Chinese living in Old Town or even working in Old Town. Chinese businesses have long vacated Old Town.

It is interesting that the tea shop owners had a restaurant on the edge of Old Town that they sold and went to work for someone else to make money for their children's college education. Is the tea shop a retirement endeavor?

The absence of Chinese or Asians in Old Town casts doubt on the value of the tea shop as a community center for Cantonese speaking Chinese or others, and it casts doubt on Mr. Lee's grasp of development issues in Old Town and efforts to make Old Town livable and safe.

If Mr. Lee's efforts is directed to making Old Town a Chinese community then he hasn't thought it through. Neighborhood vision and development planning documents looks to an inclusive community. Moreover, that Chinese neighborhood concept has been tried before without success. E.g., Pacific Tower was originally to be for Chinese occupants but attracted no takers.

Nor is it clear that PDC should be using pubic dollars for this endeavor.


  1. RED ROBE TEA shop is rad. I had it recommended to me by girls who travel-write about tea and tea places. The owners make amazing tea here and delicious beautiful food. The neighborhood is also safe. Getting to drink hot tea at a nice local business on a rainy day, what more could you want in Portland.
    Who cares what district it is in who lives there or does not. Great tea from China is there and it is prepared by amazing and knowledgeable staff. Their teas are fresh and delicious. If you want to spend an hour or 2 talking to some one you like, in a stylish and clean pretty place- this is the place to do it. The teas are also exceptional.

  2. Normally I would leave this comment alone, but it seems that it is not an objective comment by a mere customer.

    Notice that the comment doesn't address any of the issues raised in my post. This is not a review site.

    "Rad" is not a comment one might expect from anyone willing to step into Old Town to have a cup of tea.

    It is a commercial for the store by a well-meaning marketer. Similar comments - possibly by the same person - can be found on Yelp.

    Notice that these comments (here and on Yelp) are consistent with marketing hype where everything is all smiley faced.

    Like many reviews - the subject of the reviews have learned to propagate their 'positive' reviews. Businesses that do that are suspect. A good business doesn't need to blow its own horn.

    Having said that - I wish Mr. Lee well because he has been a tireless advocate for the Old Town neighborhood.

    Like it or not though - it is a neighborhood that is in trouble and ignored by PDC that has failed to produce any meaningful redevelopment in a neighborhood that reeks of blight.

    Like I say - this is not a review site.