Lefty's returns under Sweet Lorraine's

For The Jewish Review
A museum visit isn’t complete without a good nosh. Rachel and Aaron Brashear of Sweet Lorraine’s Latkes & More are now ensuring that your trip to the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education will end on a tasty note.
The musical duo, who have been performing in Portland since 2016, found themselves compelled to enter a new profession during the pandemic, when much of their teaching and gigging work came to a halt. Says Rachel, “In 2020, we were unemployed. We still wanted to be connected to the community, but we didn’t know if music would come back.” Starting Sweet Lorraine’s was a bit of a lark. One day Rachel thought, “We should have a food cart that just sells latkes, people would love it!”
Like many Oregon freelancers, the Brashears suddenly received all of their unemployment checks at once. Rachel explains, “It was like, oh my goodness, I’ve never had this much money, we should do something smart with it. So, we bought the food cart and hit the ground running in the beginning of 2021; in February 2021 we opened Sweet Lorraine’s.”
The cart eventually found an indoor home at the Labyrinth Forge Brewery, where the Brashears developed an enticing dairy menu that expanded from latkes to many other Jewish favorites: knishes, vegetarian matzo ball soup, kasha varnishkes, and whitefish salad sandwiches. 
When Chef Noah Jacob, former operator of Lefty’s Café at OJMCHE, left to pursue a partnership with Zupan’s, he recommended Sweet Lorraine’s as his replacement. Says Gail Mandel, chief operating and advancement officer at the museum, “I can say that the museum is thrilled to welcome Sweet Lorraine’s to Lefty’s Café. Rachel and Aaron’s food truly captures the spirit of what a Jewish delicatessen should be, and people have been raving about it… their knishes are to die for! I’m looking forward to tomorrow because I’m going to go get some lunch there.”
Customer input has always been essential to the Brashears. Rachel laughs, “Shoutout to Ken Rosenburg, one of our most devoted customers – he came for knishes and told us all about the book The Dairy Restaurant by Ben Katchor. It’s an illustrated book about the history of kosher food.” The other element that is important to the couple is sustainability. The Brashears not only make as much from scratch as possible, but they try to source as many ingredients as possible from local, mom-and-pop businesses. 
Aaron explains, “Our smoked whitefish salad we make from scratch, and we make our own challah. We get very good albacore from a family in Washington for our tuna salad, and we make our own half-sour pickles. We use lox from Michael Jacobs’ smokery, he sells his smoked salmon at the PSU farmers’ market.” Chimes in Rachel, “We’re very big on sustainability - not just environmental, but also community and lifestyle. We’re not trying to just get rich on these things; we want to enrich our community.”
The couple is continuing operations at the brewery and adding Lefty’s as a satellite. Due to the absence of a full kitchen, Lefty’s is offering an abbreviated menu of sandwiches, salads, soups, knishes, and baked goods. Rachel adds, “We’ll do some things that you can’t get at the brewery. So, there’s no reason not to eat at both places in the same week!”


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