PORTLAND -- Customers at a Northeast Portland restaurant were surprised to see President Barack Obama walk in Tuesday, and some even chatted with him over their morning coffee.
"I did not wake up this morning and think I was going to shake the President's hand. It was so awesome. Just wow," said Katrina Kellmer.
The President made an unscheduled stop at the Gateway Breakfast House on 114th and NE Halsey just after noon. The neighborhood landmark is known for its huge portions and great service. Obama greeted diners and bantered about what he was going to eat and how everyone was doing, according to Jeff Mapes, an Oregonian political writer traveling with the president as part of the media pool.
Photos: Obama at Portland restaurant
President Obama sat at a table with three veterans, Dean Dilley of Portland, Mark Peterson of Portland and Thomas Foeller of Oak Grove. They talked about health care issues and expenses and at one point the president said emphatically with a smile, “That one we can do right away. You heard it from the Commander in Chief.”
Customers said the President was very personable and friendly.
"We had a very good conversation a good meal and we were just remarking that he can talk, eat and ask us lofty questions all at the same time," said Foeller. "It was great."
"It's a day I will never forget for the rest of my life, fantastic," Dilley added."
The President managed to get in a bite to eat as well. What did he order? A cheese sandwich, split pea soup and iced tea. (Onlookers said he didn't finish the soup.)
Server Tim King said the restaurant offered Obama lunch on the house, but the President insisted on paying.
He also took time to pose with customers for photos.
"We got the very first picture with him when he came through the door so it was nice. But she reached up [points at mom] and hugged him and I'm like, are you kidding me? I wanted a hug," said Sandi Hiraoka, a Northeast Portland resident.
After more than 30 minutes, the president left the restaurant and his motorcade made its way back onto I-84, en route to the Convention Center.
The President has two scheduled fund-raisers at the Convention Center on Tuesday and then will leave for Seattle before nightfall, for more events.
Photos: President Obama's Portland visit
The president was also scheduled to make a speech at the convention center, which will be televised live on KGW-TV and streamed live on kgw.com. It was scheduled to begin around 4 p.m.
Bookmark this: Live streaming coverage of Obama's speech
Proceeds from Tuesday's events will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.