By Rachel Richards | CNA Media Team
Visiting NEPO 42 on a Tuesday during daily happy hour, you’ll see couples, families, singles and dogs. And you’ll sense neighborhood camaraderie.
Bartender and manager Fred Stephenson greets many who enter by name. “If I don’t know someone’s name, I do know their face,” he said. He’s worked there since NEPO 42 opened 10 years ago with only three employees, and he’s watched the staff grow to 23. “The area has grown, and the place has grown with it,” Fred explained. “Other spots have come and gone, but we’re consistent, and we’re still here.”
Thirteen indoor tables – and 11 outdoors on the dog-friendly patio – are among the draws, even for the staff. “I just want to hang out with dogs all day. My dream came true,” said one employee.
Another draw is the menu, elevated from standard pub fare, according to regular customer Judah Macauley. “There’s an excellent 20-tap beer list and solid, well done – but not overly fussy – food. It’s a good family establishment where I can bring my kid for weekend brunch or grab a quick beer with my wife.”
“The house salad with fried capers is the bomb,” noted another customer.
The name and spelling of NEPO 42 came about after friends and mentors shot down owner Matthew Firosz’s initial list of 50 potential names. “I was fixated on something with the numbers so, when you heard it, you knew where it was,” he recalled. “A graphic artist buddy who knew Portland loved the NOPO thing for north Portland, and we realized there wasn’t a NEPO. So we put the two things together as NEPO 42.
“This place has gone above and beyond my wildest dreams,” he reported. “I truly feel blessed every day, and I love that this is a place where I still want to hang out.” What does he credit for that success? “The neighborhood was willing to grow with us, and I have an amazing staff that ‘gets’ the neighborhood and wants to be friends with our guests.”
From behind the bar, Fred added, “We’re not any one thing. This place’s identity became its own because of the people. The people are the color on the wall.” That’s all part of what attracts return customers. Many on their way home say, “See you tomorrow, Fred.”
Rachel Richards is a 16-year Concordia resident who loves her community. She has a background in counseling/education and uses her passion for helping others in her work as a real estate broker. Contact Rachel or learn more about her at rachelrichardsrealtor.com.