– The Story of Papa Haydn –

Way back in the day...

...in 1978, before Portland was hip, before anybody really knew where Portland was, Heidi and Jeff Van Dyke were a young married couple who knew.

They dreamt about having a small cafe where Jeff could make soup from scratch, Heidi could bake her parent's cake recipes that she learned back in her home of Berlin, and they’d have Sunday and Monday off to spend time with their newborn daughter Stephanie.

And so Papa Haydn was born! The SE Milwaukie restaurant filled a dessert case filled with Viennese pastries inspired by the "Kaffeehaus" treats Heidi grew up with, like Sacher Tortes, Dobos Tortes, Apple Strudel, Linzertortes, and more, and served an eclectic menu of quiche, salads, and soup to the neighborhood.

In 1980, Heidi’s sister Evelyn Franz, a sculptor and artist in residence at Lincoln High School, joined the family business for "just for a year." Business was booming, and Heidi and Jeff needed someone to expand the dessert menu while they focused on the demanding day-to-day operation of the cafe.

Evelyn quickly realized that chocolate, sugar, and fresh Pacific Northwest fruits were just three more mediums in which she could sculpt. More fleeting, perhaps—in the past, her sculptures had rarely disappeared into people’s stomachs—but certainly no less worthwhile. All these years later, her beautiful and tasty creations still can be seen in Papa Haydn's dessert cases.

Five years after opening Papa Haydn's original Sellwood location, Heidi, Jeff, and Evelyn headed across the Willamette River to Northwest Portland’s Nob Hill neighborhood. It was one of the densest urban populations on the West Coast with over 16,000 people per square mile. And those folks were a very Portland mix of artisans, families, young folks, old folks, and characters. Papa Haydn felt right at home there on NW 23rd Avenue.

It was then that Evelyn’s future husband, Michael Gibbons, joined the Papa Haydn family as the new location’s bar manager.

Over forty-five years, two locations, a jazz bar, over 700 tons of chocolate (and that's being conservative), and one generation later, Papa Haydn continues. Now lead by Evelyn's son Brendan Gibbons and longtime employee Whitney Durst, the restaurants and all the people they've served over the years are proof that some dreams do come true…