Alton Porter, owner of Porter’s Place Southern Cuisine & BBQ, has died.
Porter was legendary in Tacoma for his Southern style barbecue, and for his great heart.
Thursday morning, it was his heart that failed him. At about 8 a.m., he died of an apparent heart attack in the office of his restaurant at 5026 South Tacoma Way.
Over the family’s 14 years in the restaurant and catering business, Alton Porter made them community leaders in charity. They cooked Emergency Food Network’s free community Thanksgiving turkey feast. They supported Phoenix Housing Network, Tacoma Rescue Mission and the African-American Summit for Jesuit high schools. They cooked for celebrity sports fundraisers and volunteered with their church.
Born in Renton, Porter started his restaurant on Tacoma’s East Side on Portland Avenue, moved it to the Dome District, then settled in on South Tacoma Way. Moving costs to the newest, and well-reviewed, restaurant were high, said his daughter, Elizabeth, 19. The family invested everything in it, she said.
“My father didn’t have any life insurance,” she said.
The family, she said, cannot afford a memorial service. They are deciding whether they can continue to operate the restaurant. The restaurant will reopen Tuesday, at the soonest, and the catering business will meet its contracts.
We are speaking with family members and Alton Porter’s many admirers and will update this post, and have a fuller story in my Saturday column.