Cha! Cha! Cha! is scheduled to close by April to be demolished by TriMet as the Portland transportation provider continues construction of a transit station for the new MAX Green Line. TriMet offered $469,500 for the Cha! Cha! Cha! on 1986 Southwest Sixth Ave.
Cha! Cha! Cha! scheduled to close by April for Green Line
Cha! Cha! Cha! is scheduled to close by April to be demolished by TriMet as the Portland transportation provider continues construction of a transit station for the new MAX Green Line.
TriMet offered $469,500 for the Cha! Cha! Cha! on 1986 Southwest Sixth Ave., but the proposed figure has not been finalized, according to Javier Diaz, owner of the restaurant chain. Diaz had a meeting Wednesday with an appraiser to determine the validity of the initial offer and met Thursday with representatives from TriMet to negotiate the contract.
The restaurant is an authentic Mexican taqueria that has been a staple of the Portland State community since 2001. Diaz said that March 28 is the sixth anniversary of the PSU location, which was the first Cha! Cha! Cha! in Portland.
“I would really like to have something special happen on the anniversary, especially since we close for good just after then,” Diaz said. “I definitely want to stay in Portland for a while, however.”
A new Cha! Cha! Cha! restaurant is scheduled to open at the corner of Northwest 21st Avenue and Everett Street this summer. Diaz said that he will retain several of the cooks from the Southwest Sixth Avenue location for the new restaurant. There are four other Cha! Cha! Cha! restaurants located throughout both east and west Portland.
“I’ll definitely lose some revenue on this deal,” Diaz said. “Winter and spring terms are my best earning periods, and I just want to be sure that the deal is fair.”
Mary Fetsch, spokesperson for TriMet, said that TriMet expects to begin demolition during summer. She said that TriMet is still in the process of purchasing two other buildings on that block, including the PSU Sixth Avenue Building and a vacant doctor’s office.
Fetsch said that she could not comment on how much TriMet will pay for the three buildings until the bidding process is finalized. TriMet plans to demolish all three buildings over the summer.
Kay Dannen, community relations manager for the Portland Development Commission, said that TriMet will begin laying rail for the Green Line on Monday, March 26 along Southwest Fifth Avenue, between Southwest College and Jackson streets.
Dannen said that civil work for the construction of the station will begin in July, around the time that the demolition is expected to wrap up. The station and the Green Line itself will not be in service until 2009.
Diaz said that relocating the Cha! Cha! Cha! should not take long, and that he hopes students will be willing to travel to the new location, located in the Pearl and easily accessible with the Portland Street Car. Diaz said that he has had a goal to open a new restaurant for each year that the restaurant is active, a goal that has been met thus far.
“The new restaurant isn’t exactly a new opening, but I try to keep a positive look at it,” Diaz said.
Diaz said that TriMet will pay for most of the relocation costs and that he is hoping to cover the potential sales losses in the negotiation for the Southwest Sixth Avenue location. He said that TriMet has been very accommodating and that they notified him well in advance.
“They’ve been really nice,” Diaz said. “I wish I didn’t have to move at all, but that’s life.”
Diaz said that he tries to keep the operation of Cha! Cha! Cha! as sustainable as possible. He said that when he shops for the store’s ingredients, he tries to purchase local products, and that he meets with all of the Cha! Cha! Cha! staff regularly to determine ways that the restaurants can remain sustainable.
Diaz is a former student of PSU’s School of Business Administration, where he studied information systems. He said that he feels like Cha! Cha! Cha! is a key part of the community.
He said he enjoys the current location’s atmosphere, particularly when his former professors and the many friends he has made through working in Portland visit him at the restaurant.
“It’s like a little community,” Diaz said. “I really feel like I know a lot of people because of this experience and I’ll miss this area of town.”