02-19-2017  8:54 am      •     

 Williams Street Market sells everything you'd expect from a convenience store ... and a few things you might not expect. Because business owner Tamarat Alemu has roots in Ethiopia, he also stocks traditional Ethiopian Enjarra bread, gluten-free Teff flour and raw coffee beans to roast at home – for about $6 a pound.
"That's one of the traditions back home," Amelu told The Skanner. "You just use the amount you want to consume that morning and the smell of the roasting coffee goes all through the house."
The Skanner News Video: Coffee roasting demo.
Amelu demonstrated his simple roasting technique using a skillet over a medium heat. –"You have to keep stirring until it gets golden or dark brown," he says. "Don't burn them." At-home roasters can experiment to see how the taste changes as the roasted beans change from golden to a darker brown.
When Amelu first started out as a business owner in 2004, he opened a small shop inside Jimmy's Cleaners, now located a block away on the corner of Fremont and Vancouver. Owner Jimmy Wilson and Amelu are still close.
"He is one of the best people I have met – he has been a bridge for me," Amelu says. "We are great friends—we are family."
And Wilson says of Amelu, "Don't call him my friend, I call him my son."
Problems with the building they were leasing meant both men had to find new premises in 2008. Wilson, who runs his dry cleaning business with his wife, Quanita, was working with the small business nonprofit Microenterprise Services of Oregon, hoping to develop his expertise and expand his business. As MESO helped Wilson thrive, he introduced Amelu and several other small business owners, to the program.
"We met with them as a group," Amelu says. "We all presented our business plans. It was a critical time for most of us."
Amelu wanted to keep his busuness in the neighborhood. He has lived in this part of North Portland for 10 years and feels at home here. "This is one of the best neighborhoods with the best people," he says.
But when he moved into his current location at 3508 N. Williams, his new premises had no window shades and no air conditioning. Amelu's candy was melting in the summer heat. But MESO stepped in with help to buy window blinds – and later a walk-in cooler.
"That's a loan I couldn't have got on my own," Amelu said.  He also appreciated the technical assistance he got from MESO. "You learn from other businesses and get encouragement," he said.

Amelu always wanted to run his own business. Back in Ethiopia his family had owned restaurants, so he already knew that having your own business means working hard and putting in long hours. He didn't have any capital, so he worked at Plaid Pantry and Seven-11, hoping to someday open his own convenience store. Thirteen years later, with a little help from his family, friends and MESO, Tamarat Amelu's dream is a reality.
"I'd like to bring in more of the things the neighborhood needs, and also specialize in ethnic, cultural and local items," he says.
Already, word has spread about Amelu's coffee. From Yirgacheffee, the beans belong to the high-quality Arabica family. The taste is clean and sweet with no trace of bitterness.  Ethiopian coffee is known to be some of the world's best. It's the country's largest export.  
Amelu wants to bring a little bit of Ethiopia to North Portland. And he wants to return the kindness he has found in this neighborhood. Now he has subleased part of his building to a bicycle repair shop -- giving a start to another business. But he says his proudest moment was when a neighborhood man, someone with a difficult past, told him he'd helped him turn around his life.
"He told me 'you changed my life'," Amelu said. "I was shocked. Those were the most satisfying words I've ever heard in my life."

Related story: Small Businesses Profit From MESO Program.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals


Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow