3384 SE Division St,
Sun through Thursday: 11 am – 12
Weekends: 11 am – 1 am
It looks like the mid-century modern former gas station/multi-restaurants place at 3384 SE Division might have finally found the right fit with OP Wurst. There’s parking in the front, lots of outdoor seating, cozy interior with a fireplace, a full-bar and, best of all, they serve some of the best sausages and charcuterie available.
Olympia Provisions (OP) is the brain child of Elias Cairo, a hard-working young man with a mission. His story begins with his Greek immigrant father, who ran two restaurants in Salt Lake City, Utah. These restaurants were a life devotion.
The family grew their own poultry, made their own wine and sausage, and everything they served was made from scratch – a labor intensive living. So no way did Elias’ parents want him to go into the restaurant business when there were so many other careers to choose, but some things are just in a person’s blood.
At seventeen Elias went to northern Switzerland and became an apprentice under the tutelage of a German Jägemeister where he learned the world’s most popular sausage recipes. Sometimes they would cure over 200 animals a month for hunters and farmers as well as themselves. “I stayed her for five years and then decided to go to work in Greece where I had family, but the feeling for what I wanted to do wasn’t there,” Elias said.
It was his sister Michelle who suggested Portland and upon arriving here he knew that this is the type of American city that still has an old world charm. He could imagine setting down roots here. With his culinary skills, he began work as a chef at Castagna. “I really appreciate the quality and care they give to food preparation,” he said. “It’s how I would do things.”
In 2009 putting all his acquired knowledge to the test, he decided to craft his own line of charcuterie with the traditional skills he learned in Europe. He opened a food kitchen in the Centennial Mills building and began his one man salumist operation.
Elias pays attention to details using 100% lean, antibiotic-free Pacific Northwest pork, pure soft fatback, a judicious amount of sea salt, fresh garlic and freshly ground spices. “Our cured meats are held in natural casings and maintained in the organic white mold that protects them,” he said. People here have recognized the quality and a few local stores picked his product up. Eventually, Olympia Provisions went nationwide.
This was the springboard that today sees Olympia Provisions with five partners, five restaurants and nationwide sausage and pickle distributors. “This is no longer just me,” Elias said. His sister Michelle is the CEO: Nate Tilden has the vision for interior design and menu, Martin Schwarts is the sage, Tyler Gaston is the front man. Other members of the team are Victor Deras and Cameron Buchholz who bring their good food and drink vibes to OP.
The OP Wurst on Division St. is the third one they’ve opened of this type. Already it is becoming a neighborhood place welcoming the whole spectrum of neighborhood residents depending upon the time of day. The Happy Hour menu can’t be beat. $10 buys a beer and the daily wurst and there’s many more choices.
The word wurst in German means sausage and all the different prefixes tell either where it’s from, what it’s made of, the process or a specific recipe. Op Wurst has a great selection including: bratwurst, pecorino-parsley, Italian, kaselkrainer, kielbasa, bratwurst, pork frankfurter, beef frankfurter, chicken and leek, weisswurst, French garlic, Pok Pok, and breakfast links. Delicious!