What’s In the Bag, With Jason Rhodes of Palate (An Exquisite Bend Coffee Bar)

What’s In the Bag, With Jason Rhodes of Palate (An Exquisite Bend Coffee Bar)

On a recent Friday afternoon, around 4:30, Jason Rhodes of Palate was deep in conversation with someone over the back fence at Palate. (Palate = only the most exquisite Bend coffee bar; lovingly owned and operated by Jason Rhodes and his rad partner, Jodi Groteboer.). I waited some breaths while Jason finished up his exchange. We were to have a casual chat and photo session for what would be the (eternal) Beginner’s Guide to Bend’s first installment of What’s In the Bag?, wherein we ask local stand-outs, well, what’s in their bags.

Getting Down To Business As Unusual At The Best Bend Coffee Bar: Palate

As we like to do, the hour prior Laura and I had been using Palate as our cozy, caffeine-flush space-away-from-our-home-offices office. You know, how most Millennials do these days. We were all business and at the tail end of wrapping up some creative content

inside bend coffee bar palate


palate bend coffee bar ceiling
When in doubt, look up.


inside palate bend coffee bar wall hangings
Heart. A whole fuck-ton of it.

OK, like I said, we were all business, which is why stepping through the back door and into Palate’s backyard was all the more like passing through a tesseract. Not that the interior of this Bend coffee bar is anything but aesthetically refreshing—we have commented that the room itself is comprised of magic—it’s curated with tufts of curious things (a plastic cowboy figurine, nearly edible slivers of geode, patches of lichen the color of limeade), and it seems to expand as you take your seat —but out back? Now THAT’S a fucking SPACE, and one where anything can happen and where the rules of physics and/or metaphysics may or may not apply. Have you ever read Gary Zukav? If not, you should.

plastic cowboy figurine in bend coffee bar

River rock lies on the ground in various states of subduction. A stage (about which Laura inquired: What’s this, the Stage of Life? And to which Jason replied, without hesitation: Exactly.) erected from repurposed lumber, rises slightly and to the left. A freshly hewn stump juts up behind the bar that will eventually open itself to A Broken Angel, the Bend vegan food cart in residence on the other side of Palate’s back fence (more on THAT in another post). Despite the chill, Jason is at ease in a t-shirt, having just taken down a tree (for space and for use, of course). Bella, a sweet, lumpy love of a golden lab, sticks close, sniffs often.

Palate, a Bend coffee bar, backyard stage


jason rhodes and dog bella

Getting Down to Business, For Real, At Palate Coffee Bar In Bend

After exchanging a handshake and a hello (that was it for preliminaries and pleasantries,just my style) the next half hour was a rich and somehow weightlessly speeding exchange of ideas and memory and experience and vision. Thirty minutes of art and death and Oregon real estate, of community and civic responsibility and, yup, politics (not just Bend’s). It was as invigorating and as easy as passing a hand through a waterfall. To say that tapping into the subdural veins beneath the public veins inside the community is neat, is an understatement.

When the three of us finally got to emptying Jason’s bag, we were friends. And maybe what I mean by that is not that we were familiar, but that we knew something elemental and human and real about one another. Some things we can only hope (aim?) for in every conversation.

Jason rhodes
That’s Jason. He’s rad. You can even make eye contact with him the next time you’re in Palate.

But before we get to the bag (Because we love to make you wait, and because haven’t we already opened “the bag” through meaningful, undefined, and heartfelt exchange?), back to the SPACE, and what this space means for those of us in Bend, or those considering moving to Bend, who are seeking community and connection beyond the lights. Looking at the bones around us, at the materials foraged with an artist’s sensibility, you could see that the backyard at Palate would shape and shift and fashion itself to accommodate the moment. Friday, that moment was an inspired and inspiring interaction. And in that space, in this summer and beyond, I bet we can look forward to moments and afternoons and perhaps a few evenings of vegan feasting, acoustic performance, and—who knows?—a slammin’ poetry show or two.

Envisioning Palate Coffee Bar Beyond It’s Own Two Feet

Jason envisions his Bend coffee bar beyond it’s realm of meticulously pulled Stumptown shots and Coava pour overs. He sees this Bend coffee bar’s shapeshifting backyard as cultural loci, a place for many elements to meet and come into play. And that’s us, the citizens of Bend and the humanimals just passing through. We are the many elements. As Jason said, “I don’t want to be reinforced by what I already believe.”

Indeed, I want to be changed. And without further ado, here’s what’s in Jason Rhode’s bag right now:

inside the bag
All the things. Or at least most of them anyway.

And what was in his bag 5 years ago:

  • Baby diapers
  • Chewy toy
  • Cigarettes
  • iPod (with same playlist as today)

And what’s going to be in his bag in the distant and pixelated future:

  • 2017/18/19  paper calendar
  • New notepad with projects
  • New books
  • Water bottle
  • iPhone 23
  • NO cigarettes

Also, I’m reading Howard Norman’s memoir, I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place, and so this: There is another world but it is in this one. ~ Paul Eluard


***written in collaboration, as always.

2 thoughts on “What’s In the Bag, With Jason Rhodes of Palate (An Exquisite Bend Coffee Bar)

  1. Inspiring and rich post! We are joining the Bend area in 2 weeks, can’t wait to check out Palate and spend an afternoon working in that back yard. Yes, indeed, we want to be changed. ❤️

    1. That’s great, Darlene! Welcome to the neighborhood. As of right now, Palate’s front and side yard are open (and lovely), though, from the looks of the backyard construction process, I bet that’s up and running soon as well. And we’re (obviously) looking forward to it! Thanks for reading, and feel free to share fiercely and with abandon. Ciao.

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