The year: 1969. Thousands descend on upstate New York for the Woodstock Music Festival, astronaut, Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, and gasoline runs just .35 cents per gallon. In Portland, Oregon, on January 10, Guss and Sally Dussin embark on a journey that will satisfy food lovers for half a century to come.
“We were young and full of aspiration. We trusted Guss’ instincts in the restaurant industry and believed in the simplicity of delicious, affordable 3-course meals,” says 90-year-young Sally Dussin, co-founder, The Old Spaghetti Factory. “We also wanted to create a unique dining experience that was warm, and welcoming for guests of all ages, which led to our design, inside and out.”
Today it is clear, the concept worked. This family-owned restaurant will celebrate 50 years in business, grown from one location in Portland to more than 40 across the United States. They’re inviting everyone to celebrate along with them, rolling back prices on select entrees January 10, 2019 to just $5-6 dollars a plate. Each dish on the limited menu will include a pasta entree, salad, warm bread, and a scoop of spumoni ice cream for dessert.
Freshly made food is the backbone of The Old Spaghetti Factory, and since 1969, clear favorites have emerged. Patrons have come to expect the freshly baked bread shortly after being seated. Many order the salad and request the employee-invented, creamy pesto dressing. And the spumoni ice cream with cherry, pistachio and chocolate flavors has been a tradition since day one.
Yet hands down, the reigning champion of entrees remains: Spaghetti with Mizithra Cheese and Browned Butter—a Dussin family recipe. The numbers tell the story.
Since January 10, 1969:
- More than 22 million pounds of Mizithra has been served at The Old Spaghetti Factory.
- 142 million spumoni scoops have created just as many smiles.
- Upwards of 80 million loaves of freshly baked bread have been presented to patrons upon arrival.
Many of those meals were served in the iconic trolley, one of the unique design features implemented by Sally Dussin, who remains a source of inspiration behind every detail. The first trolley in Portland, Oregon was pulled from a field near Reed College and completely refurbished. Its popularity kicked off a trend; now a trolley is parked in nearly every location.
“Many people ask about the ‘bed booths’. That’s 100 percent my mom,” adds Chris Dussin, Sally and Guss’ son and chairman of The Old Spaghetti Factory. “The first one was in the original Portland restaurant, and its popularity made them a fixture in all our restaurants. Mom and Dad had a deal – he took care of the food and kitchen side of the restaurants and she handled the design. It worked out really well, and for decades guests have enjoyed the food and atmosphere.”
The trolley and the bed booths married with the antique, Tiffany-style chandeliers, stained glass displays and cozy wood interiors have created an iconic restaurant setting that has been part of patrons’ memories for 50 years.