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Thursday, May 26, 2005
Portland is now a little bit less weird
What? The Carousel Restaurant closed? When? Wha...? Huh?
The Carousel Restaurant was once apart of Portland's dwindling supply of kitschy businesses. This nearly forgotten burger joint, originally called the Carnival, opened near OHSU sometime in the '50s and drew summertime crowds for over 40 years. I remember heading up there as tyke on many a July night in the '80s. My family inevitably wound up at a picnic table near the restaurant's fish pond. Despite my parent's best efforts to stop me, I always wound up feeding a good portion of my fries to the pond's paunchy koi fish.
The Carousel's interior had a circus theme. Historic Barnum and Bailey posters hung over red and white booths. The condiment stand resembled a circus tent and the booster seats were modeled to look like cartoon giraffes. All the burgers were cooked over a fire in a brick oven near a smiling cartoon sign that urged customers to "order fries here!" Back in the day, it was not uncommon to see doctors and nurses from OHSU amongst the lunch crowd.
In recent years the place fell on hard times and into disrepair. Paint began cracking and the koi pond eventually became little more than an oversized mud puddle. As time went by, there were always fewer and fewer customers when I dropped in for a burger and an Oreo shake.
The Carousel is still standing, for the time being at least. A few years back there were rumors that OHSU had purchased the property and was planning to turn it into a parking lot. That remains to be seen but, all things considered, the place stands the same dim chance of coming back as Henry Ford's and Waddle's.
On Sunday, Stumptown Confidential posted now & then photos of the Carousel/Carnival. It's a sad sight.