Paul E. Bulkin was the proprietor of the Samovar, as noted by David B. Cole in his Portland State University dissertation, "Russian Oregon: A History of the Russian Orthodox Church and Settlement in Oregon, 1882-1976." A 1972 article about the quaint building by John Wendeborn in the Oregonian prompted a reminiscence about the Samovar by Joel C. Hertsche, Jr. (September 29). He extolled Bulkin, "who prepared the best Russian-type food I have ever laid tongue to. Blinis with sour cream, beef stroganoff, spiced wine and a varied and very tasty menu." Bulkin entertained as well as cooked: "The only music that was played there then was Paul himself beating out a tune on a bread board with a carving knife." Cole's dissertation mentions two other Russian restaurants in Portland during the 1930s and 1940s.
Before apparently leaving Portland for the Los Angeles area about 1940, Bulkin and his wife were noted as the owners of a pair of St. Bernard dogs, Mike and Sergey, who were frequently to be seen at the new Timberline Lodge. The Bulkins helped to promote the Mt. Hood winter sports carnival in 1937. "Paul Bulkin, the mad Russian" also opened another themed restaurant in1939, when the Russian Village, in something of an oxymoronic state, advertised its hosting of "Dan Warren's Africa Congo Revue, with the music of Toby Williams' Congo rhythm swing."
|John Margolies photo, 1976. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division|
|Oregonian, June 11, 1930|
|2525 SE Clinton Street, Portland|