Analysis Paralysis and Efforts to “Be Better”

Well Beerchasers, you will have to excuse the lack of news about bars and breweries in this post.   And the image above (thanks to my sister-in-law, Pam Williams) and the pre-pandemic photo below from the gone but not forgotten Club 21 in Portland are the only pictures related to beer reminding us of what we are missing,. 

Chatting with a fascinating group of Club 21 regulars in 2014

My rationalization is that I still cannot really follow my protocol of going inside to new establishments and interviewing bartenders and regulars.   In addition, this platform is one where I can fret about annoyances and pet peeves and get them off my chest – even if I’m the only one who reads them…..So be forewarned, however, some of you may have the same frustration with the issue below.

The pandemic and events leading up to it, have made me a lot more conscious about statistics.   And it’s not that I was oblivious to numbers and trends previously.   In my twenty-five years in management at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm in Portland – first as Business Manager and then for the last twelve as  COO – analyzing and interpreting data and trends on collections, billings, hours worked and expenses were an ongoing priority.

Originator of the lamppost analogy…

In fact, Dave Bartz, our Co-managing Partner and now Chair – Emeritus at the firm, loved to quote Scottish poet and literary critic Andrew Lang who asserted:  “Most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost; more for support than illumination” 

And when we were trying to motivate lawyers to pay more attention to the business of law so both attorneys and the staff could get paid, we didn’t hesitate to use that maxim – especially at year-end!

Of course, lawyers were aware of efforts to frame the key statistics to enhance our position and one of them would inevitably respond with Mark Twain’s assertion:  “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

“Don’t bullshit me with figures…..”

Now – to digress – and  speaking of drawing a conclusion after analyzing, let’s use the example from Wikipedia when citing the source of the photo of Lang above.

The disclaimer states, “The copyright situation of this work is theoretically uncertain, because in the country of origin, copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the author, and the date of the author’s death is unknown.”

Then in an incredibly dry and understated manner it adds:

However, the date of creation of this work was over 120 years ago, and it is thus a reasonable assumption that the copyright has expired.”   Since it also stated that Lang died in 1914, I felt reasonably reassured that I could use this photo with the public domain attribution.

In 1980, I also had the experience of taking two terms of Data Analysis in graduate school with my new wife – her first two courses in the MPA Program at Portland State University – and my last two.

There was no on-line personal computer capability then and it was a real strain on our new marriage.  We’d negotiate on who got to go down and stand in line at Shattuck Hall on Saturday morning to run the punch-cards to get the report we had to analyze and who got to clean the bathrooms at our house. (The loser had to drive to Portland State!)

But over those months, we grudgingly learned Regression Analysis and stat concepts such as Hypothesis Testing and Statistical Significance, and Central Tendency.

Shattuck Hall – It looks so welcoming now, but in 1980??

The last year makes us realize more than ever before that data can be manipulated, interpreted differently or even blatantly distorted to promote a position.   It seems that ethical and rational conclusions have been discarded at will – and it’s bipartisan practice.

Whether it was Donald Trump’s infamous assertion on February 26, 2020 about COVID 19:  “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,”

Signing the Congressional Funding Bill for Coronavirus Response on March 2020 – it didn’t work……..

Andrew Cuomo

But the Dems reinforce the practice whether it be New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo’s manipulation of nursing home deaths due to COVID

or

Kate Brown

Oregon’s own Kate Brown’s (D) administration’s alleged “massage” of COVID statistics to reinforce the rationale for Oregon’s policy.  The Oregon Health Authority – up until a KGW television reporter pointed out the flaw – also skewed the data on the number of Oregon COVID cases:

“OHA counted only ‘new’ people who got tested. If someone got a test in June and was negative, then returned for another test in July and was negative, that second test would not be counted as part of that July day’s total of tests given…..Not counting all the return people getting tested increased the positivity rate because it created a smaller denominator in the equation.”

While this approach may have been an honest mistake in uncharted territory, some would assert that it was a deliberate and nefarious attempt to increase case data to justify Oregon’s stricter lockdown policies.  And it was statistically significant……

The State has also exhibited it’s abhorrence to data transparency until objections by the media and constituents forced a turnaround on work-place outbreaks in May, 2020.

So what can each of us do in these times where mutual trust is as scarce as a glass of fine Pinot in a dive bar.  As rare as an NFL lineman who has never undergone concussion protocol or as infrequent as….. – sorry, I got carried away.

Statistics – not very attractive as a course offering

Broadcast and print news media now often have a political slant and newspapers struggle to provide investigative reporting staff.

Statistical Analysis tends to be a course  avoided in both high school and college – especially when one can, as an example, get three hours of credit at Michigan State University for “Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse—Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior.”  Go Figure – so to speak…

And, of course, social media (like this blog….) is not exactly the most appropriate repository of veracity.

Some tips on how to mitigate this issue.

Read your paper – be informed and support it!

  • Support your local newspaper to help promote independent journalism in the future.
  • Employ some journalistic standards on your own e.g. checking multiple sources to verify what is stated as fact in articles – especially those on social media.

A timely (2/28) letter from Editor, Therese Bottomly, in The Oregonian entitled  “Yes, you should read us but please read lots of other sources, too,”  eloquently affirms my advice:

“Pew’s new analysis is a reminder that we should all broaden our media diet…..I encourage you to read widely. It’s worthwhile for those on the left and on the right to consume news from a broad spectrum….And it is wise to keep in mind the differences between fact-based news and straight-up opinion writing.” 

  • Challenge – through letters-to-the-editor and ongoing dialogue – baseless assertions made by those who are not well informed or conversely, those who are well informed and deliberately offer falsehoods.

Yes Virginia, there are THREE branches in the US Government and the Judicial Branch is one

  • Promote civic education in your local high school.  These courses are increasingly absent from curricula.   A 6/4/20 Brookings Institute report quoted a 2016 survey led by Annenberg Public Policy Center citing the “limited civic knowledge of the American public, 1 in 4 of whom, are unable to name the three branches of government. 
  • And for those with students in the house, engage in dinner-table discussion (also becoming more infrequent) about current events and what they garner from school and the internet on the issues.

Perhaps working with lawyers for over thirty years, taught me (the hard way….) the discipline to question rather than blithely accept claims without examining underlying assumptions for validity or context.  Let’s take one example.

Be Better – A Case Study??!!

For the last few years, the NBA Portland Trailblazers and Moda Health Systems, as part of their partnership, have had a program entitled Moda Assist Program.  Television announcers at every game describe with exuberance the arrangement.

As stated in the Moda Website:

“For every Trail Blazers assist on the court during the regular season, Moda Health and the Blazers each donate $10 dollars (that’s a total of $20 per assist!) to the Trail Blazers Foundation.

At the end of each season, the money goes towards building a new all-abilities playground in a deserving Oregon community.”  The Blazer website states, the amount per assist was doubled from last year.

Naming Rights — $40 million over ten years……

My instincts compelled me to analyze this program.   For background, it was reported by an article in a 2013 Lund Report entitled,  “Moda’s Vast Pool of Resources Makes the Rose Garden Affordable:”

“Moda expects to pay out $40 million for those naming rights.  Moda paid the Blazers approximately $40 million over a ten-year period for the naming rights” to the former Portland Rose Garden.

While the exact terms were not disclosed, Moda did not challenge the above estimate and it was similar to other stadium or arena naming deals in the NFL and NBA. Also see 8/13/2013 Blazer’sEdge.com.  Note:  Moda is classified by the IRS as a non-profit service provider.

Some Moda subscribers, at a time when premiums were rising and claims receiving additional scrutiny (and rejection) were also not happy as set forth in this 8/23/13 Oregonian article:  Moda Health Subscribers Express Frustration With Rose Garden Naming Rights Deal

“I am a terminal cancer patient. My insurance company, formerly ODS, is now Moda. Last week I received notice that Moda would no longer pay for one of my prescriptions on the same day I read that it reportedly paid $40 million to have its name on the Rose Garden. I just hope the company doesn’t decide it needs more advertising.”

Let’s analyze what this means for the sponsoring organizations and Oregon communities.  The program sets out the metric – “for every assist on the court” which could just mean the home court, but let’s be generous and assume it’s on the basketball court – home or away.  So they pony up $20 collectively.   Remember, it’s just during the regular season and not during playoffs.

A normal season would mean eighty total games.  The Blazers, according to teamrankings.com for the 2020 season, ranked last among all NBA teams in assists per game with 19.9. (They were also last in 2019 with 20.4 – maybe this is why Moda selected this performance metric…..)

Both of the last two years have had abbreviated schedules, but for the sake of discussion let’s assume the typical 80-game regular NBA season.  With the 2020-21 season about half over, the Blazer website states that the number of assists to this point is 636.

So this means for a normal NBA season, Moda would shell out about $16,000 and the Blazers about the same amount – it will again be less this year since the regular season is only 70 games because of the pandemic.

Now to provide some context, it is intuitively believed that health insurers (as contrasted to hospitals) did pretty well financially during COVID 19 last year because so many elective surgeries were postponed and people shied away from trips to the ERs or hospitals for non-COVID issues because of fear of contracting the virus.

The Kaiser Family Foundation newsletter on 12/16/20 on “Health Insurer Financial Performance Through September 2020” stated, in part:

“By the end of September, average (profit) margins across these four markets (Medicare, Medicaid, group and individual private insurance) remained relatively high and loss ratios relatively low or flat compared to the same point in recent years.

These findings suggest that many insurers have remained profitable even as both COVID-related and non-COVID care increased in the third quarter of 2020.”

There has been no slide in health insurer profits…..

To conclude, I’ll leave you with what kind of playground $32,000 would provide.  According to Gametime.com which designs and manufactures commercial playground equipment for schools and communities and why the Moda website in some subtle wordsmithing statestowards building” rather than buying and installing the entire structure(s).

“You should budget around $1,000 per child. That makes the average cost of playground equipment between $15,000 and $50,000. If you are looking for a larger play structure with inclusive (accessible) features or a custom design, set a budget closer to $150,000.”  (Emphasis providedMar 12, 2020)

So when I hear Blazer players and announcers enthusiastically proclaim the Moda slogan “Be Better” and look at an excerpt from Moda’s mission statement: “Be outstanding community citizens through gifts of our time and resources,”  I ask for a little corporate introspection.  Not to be a wet blanket and admitting the program conceptually is to be lauded       

BUT

Given the need to promote outdoor recreation at schools as the pandemic continues and given the number of Oregon communities decimated by wildfires, ice storms (and in Portland) vandalism to public facilities, could both Moda and the Blazers be better in this program without causing much internal organizational distress?  Rather than have three communities vie for the funds with one “winning”  how about awarding all three or more?

Cheers and Be Better by Getting Your Vaccination!

Thebeerchaser’s 2014 Annual Report

Thebeerchaser on one of the three visits to his favorite 2014 bar - Crackerjacks in NW Portland

Thebeerchaser on one of the three visits to his favorite 2014 bar – Crackerjacks in NW Portland

During the twenty-five years I worked at my favorite law firm (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt P.C.) the frantic end-of-year financial and compensation activities culminated with preparation for the auditors in the new year.  We had good auditors, but this combat analogy seems fitting: “Auditors are those who arrive after the battle and bayonet the wounded.”

The Original Beerchaser Logo

The Original Beerchaser Logo

Fortunately, there is no similar pressure in the blogging world.  The gurus at WordPress prepared a 2014 Annual report for this blog – replete with graphics and interesting statistics. You can see a summary below which will supplement my own reflections.  But first some context:

Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced in August 2011 – about six months after I retired as the COO of the law firm.  I had a great career working with lawyers at Schwabe, the Oregon State Bar and in local government, but I was ready for new adventures.  And so with great deliberation, I considered many options.   Based on stringent criteria, it was narrowed to two:

Public Domain - National Park Service - 9/14/2009 Wikimedia Commons (http:///en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pacific Crest Trail -logo.jpg)

Public Domain – National Park Service – 9/14/2009 Wikimedia Commons

Either hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or making a tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs and blogging about them.  My due diligence involved reviewing past backpacking trips.  Reflecting on these pictures of a hiking trip with my two brothers and brother-in-law on the Eagle Creek Trail in the late ’70’s added perspective.

Cheryl Strayed would be proud!!

Cheryl Strayed would be proud!!

 

 

 

I then visited the watering hole that was the inspiration for this hobby – a great dive bar in Dundee named Lumpy’s Landing.  There were many similarities to the two options – the 2,663 mile hike or the multi-year bar tour.

Regrouping at Wahtum Lake after a day of backpacking in the '70's. The Williams boys - Rick, Garry and Don

Regrouping at Wahtum Lake after a day of backpacking in the ’70’s

First, both require use of a compass or GPS to get to remote and sometimes obscure locations not adequately marked with signs and not generally seen as desirable by others.

Secondly, the subpar menu for each option would not be the diverse and tasty culinary delights one is used to at home.  (Example: Kiskie’s powdered eggs on the trail and Hot Mama sausages or pickled hard-boiled eggs – a staple at most dive bars.

Aged to perfection.... but better than powdered eggs
Aged to perfection…. but better than powdered eggs

 

Darwin's Theory - A magnificent Anchorage Alaska dive bar

Darwin’s Theory – A magnificent Anchorage Alaska dive bar – try the free popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, it all “boiled down” to liquid.  In order to avoid the gastro-intestinal distress of giardia, purifying all water by filter, tablets or boiling is required on the PCT.  However, only a few dive bars would require this step on a Bar Tour.

The Ship Tavern - might want to try PBR instead of the water

The Ship Tavern – might want to try PBR instead of the water

And when dive bar potability issues are manifest, there is always PBR – usually cold although at other temperatures still a good option.  (This provides a good chance to take umbrage with an Oregonian movie reviewer who used the following inappropriate analogy when panning a 2014 film:  ….But it had all the zing of a can of flat Pabst.”)   

Good at any temperature!

Good at any temperature!

P1010724

Necessary admonition in Eastern Oregon bar (Burns, Oregon)

 

 

 

 

 

So the bar option was chosen and initiating Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland  Bars, Taverns and Pubs was a wonderful decision.  My initial intent to restrict this journey to just Portland venues was soon discarded.

Thus, followers of this blog have seen reviews of bars in Europe, Alaska, the Oregon Coast, Eastern Oregon, Washington and Colorado (18 visited but not yet posted).

Thebeerchaser enjoying the scenery and a brewski outside the Horner Tavern in laldll Switzerland

Thebeerchaser enjoying the scenery and a brewski outside the Horner Pub in Lauterbrunneen, Switzerland

So three years and five months later, what has been accomplished keeping in mind my forty-years in management were often focused on performance metrics?

In the chart below, the right column is the average number of days between bar reviews for each year although it should be kept in mind that a repeat visit to each bar is generally the case to ensure accurate reporting and not reflected.

Year Days Bar Reviews Avg. Days
2011 146 8 18.3
2012 366 24 15.3
2013 365 29 12.6
2014 365 34 10.7
1242 95 13.1
Stay tuned in 2015 for the Colorado beer tour details

Stay tuned in 2015 for the Colorado beer tour details

Thus you can see that intensity has increased each year and while I do not want to regress to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), the statistics are not accrual-based i.e. there are 18 bars and micro-breweries we visited in a wonderful fall 2014 trip to Colorado that aren’t included in the count and will be posted in early 2015.  This is also a good time to multi-task with both a bar and accountant joke:

A guy in a bar leans over to the guy next to him and says, ‘Want to hear an accountant joke?  The guy next to him replies, ‘Well, before you tell that joke, you should know that I’m 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, and make me living as an accountant. And the guy sitting next to me is 6’2″ tall, 225 pounds, and he’s an accountant too. Now, do you still want to tell that joke?’

The first guy says, ‘No, I don’t want to have to explain it two times.’

That said, those who are interested in statistics (like the drunk using a lamppost – more for support than illumination…) may be interested that the standard deviation from the mean during those four years is 3.27 days demonstrating reasonable volatility and thus stability in frequency of visits.

Beerchasing on the Central Oregon Coast

Beerchasing on the Central Oregon Coast at the Tide Pool Inn in Depoe Bay

So before I conclude by briefing you on the venues visited during 2014, take a look at Thebeerchaser’s Annual Report compiled by WordPress.  I am most proud that in December, the blog surpassed the 40,000 views threshold – from those searching the internet in 115 countries – even those where a limb or appendage might be cut off if you are caught drinking my favorite beverage.

The report below also does not mention the distinguished individuals I have tried to recognize with the designation “Beerchaser of the Quarter”  – an eclectic group ranging from war heroes I know personally to authors to academicians to coaches and even the crew of the USS Constitution based on its famous albeit fictitious voyage in 1798.  A summary of these “honorees” for 2014 follows and to see the others, check out the blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 2014 Establishments Visited and Reveiwed

Beerchasing at Saraveza

Beerchasing at Saraveza

Now remember, the thirty-four venues visited in 2014 do not include the eighteen varied and wonderful bars and micro-breweries we had the privilege of frequenting on our Colorado trip this fall, but here’s the breakdown:

Dive Bars (9) – Club 21 and Sandy Hut in Portland, Nauti Mermaid, Old Oregon Saloon, Sportsman Pub and Grub on the Central Oregon Coast and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee (a revisit from 2011). 

Club 21 - Would you believe a former Greek Orthodox Church?

Club 21 – Would you believe a former Greek Orthodox Church?

Neighborhood Bars (9) Stamtisch, Lost and Found, Bazi Bier Brasserie, Crackerjacks, Quimbys, Saraveza, Richmond and Nest in Portland and the Mad Dog Tavern in Newport on the coast.     

Outside Stamtisch - a great new NE bar - Laura Williams, Ryan Keen and Kenzie Larson
Outside Stamtisch – a great new NE bar – Laura Williams, Ryan Keen and Kenzie Larson

 

———————

Historic Bars (4) – Skyline Tavern in Portland, Bay Haven Inn and Snug Harbor on the Central Oregon Coast and Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska.

An Historic Newport  Oregon Bar

An Historic Newport Oregon Bar

——————

Sports  Bars (2) – Cheerful Bullpen and Marathon Taverna in Portland

—————–

Owner Amy, Denny Ferguson and Jessica at the Cheerful Bullpen

Owner Amy, Denny Ferguson and Jessica at the Cheerful Bullpen

Miscellaneous (4) – Sniff Café and Peda-lounge (not a bar per se’) in Portland, Oar House and Hoover’s on the Central Oregon Coast    

Multiple bars visited on the Pedaloung tour

Multiple bars visited on the Peda-lounge tour

———-

P1020604                 Brew Pubs (5)Roadhouse 101/Rusty Truck Brewery and the Pelican Brew Pub on the Central Oregon Coast and Haines Brewery, Glacier Brewhouse and Snow Goose Bar/Sleeping Lady Brewery in Alaska.

Bottle Shops (1) – BeerMongers in Portland

The BeerMongers - an excellent bottle shop

The BeerMongers – an excellent bottle shop

————————

Beerchasers of the Quarter – I am pleased to have spent time and chronicled the remarkable careers, contributions and charismatic personalities of the following individuals in 2014:

Art Vandelay, President and CEO of Vandelay Enterprises
Art Vandelay, President and CEO of Vandelay Enterprises

 Art Vandelay – Entrepreneur, lawyer, philanthropist and voted “Most Likely” at his high school alma mater.

————————–

Brian Doyle – Award-winning Northwest author and editor of Portland, the University of Portland’s outstanding and lauded quarterly publication.

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulsom Brew Pub

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulton Brew Pub

——————————-

Steve Lawrence – Attorney and now Mayor of The Dalles.  Awarded two bronze stars for service in the Viet Nam conflict.

Two Viet Nam heroes - Beerchaser of the Quarter 2014 Steve Lawrence and 2013 BoQ Jud Blakely
Two Viet Nam heroes – Beerchaser of the Quarter 2014 Steve Lawrence and 2013 BoQ Jud Blakely

 

Jack Faust – Attorney, award-winning Portland media personality and former military intelligence officer during the Korean conflict.

Portland Appellate Lawyer and Media Personality Jack Faust

Portland Appellate Lawyer and Media Personality Jack Faust

——

In a self-critique, I noted that during the last three years there have been no female recipients of Thebeerchaser-of-the-Quarter award.  Along with working on lowering the average days between bar visits, that will be a goal in 2015.  Stay tuned!!

While it’s not the Pacific Crest Trail, we will continue to blaze trails in the bar scene.  And for those who have discovered and frequent their own favorite Portland bars – ones that are not included in the 57 reviewed so far by Thebeerchaser, please let me know.  With some perseverance and effort, it may not take 10.7 days for me to get there.

Happy New Year

Lumpy's Landing on Highway 18 in Dundee - an inspiration!

Lumpy’s Landing on Highway 18 in Dundee – an inspiration!

Club 21 – Don’t be Fooled by the Name of this Good Bar

Club 21 - Definitely not a Strip Club....

Club 21 – Definitely not a Strip Club….

Okay – admit it.  When you saw the title of this review was Club 21, you thought I had abandoned the guideline to exclude strip clubs from the venues reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  But that’s not the case.  Club 21 is a great NE neighborhood bar in an iconic 1930 building (at one time a Russian Orthodox church) co-owned by Marcus Archambeault and Warren Brophy, who also own two other Portland bars –  Gold Dust Meridian (see Thebeerchaser review in October 2012) and The Double Barrel.

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Unlike some multiple bar owners who stay with one theme, they are creative – each bar has its own marketing, menu and ambiance based on the clientele, the building design and the neighborhood  history.

Club 21 has great character and lawyers Scott Whipple and Dan Duyck and young O”Neill Electric Project Manager, Ryan Keene and I enjoyed our beer and a dinner there one late weekday afternoon.

Whipple is a Beerchaser regular having accompanied me to Ash Street Saloon and the Dixie Tavern downtown, in the early 2012 days of this “journey,” then to Slab Town and the Skyline Tavern in October 2013.

He and his law partner, Duyck, were along for Gold Dust Meridian and Bar of the Gods and Ryan and his girlfriend, Laura, Beerchased at Quimby’s, Sniff Café and most recently, Stammtisch.  (If you’re interested in seeing any of these reviews, just use the “Search” feature at the top right of Thebeerchaser logo.)   P1020507

When we arrived at 5:00, there were few in the building, but a steady stream of regulars quickly filled both the inside and an expansive patio on the sunny afternoon.  And the regulars were friendly and talkative when we asked them to tell us about the bar.

P1020518

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

According to our bartender, Leslie – who has worked there 3.5 years, Club 21 has been the name of the bar since 1958.  After its time as a place of worship, it became the eastside annex of Jake’s Crawfish.

The owner of Nick’s Coney Island bought the building and  named his bar, Shadows.  In 1958, it became Club 21 – just because it’s on 21st and NE Glisan.  Marcus and Warren purchased it in early 2011.

In the photo below, that’s Dennis in the center – he works at Franz Bakery, and first came to the bar in 1966 – where he met the woman who is still his wife in the early ‘70’s.

Jovial and Helpful Regulars - and good taste in beer!!

Jovial and Helpful Regulars – and good taste in beer!!

Dennis and his friends remember the structure when it was a church and talked about sitting on what used to be the altar when they first started patronizing.

As an undated Portland Mercury review asserted,Be sure to say hi to the regulars they’ve been drinking there before you were born. No but seriously. They have!” (Unless you are as old as Thebeerchaser….)

And the dark and cozy environment reeks with personality with accoutrements such as old Schlitz lamps and classic Blitz beer signs, three antler heads, a stuffed duck, a classic nude painting, four old-fashioned pin-ball machines, Big Buck World and a small nook in the wall with religious statuettes.

One of four trophies....

One of three trophies….

In fact, even the men’s bathroom has character – you have to open a door and walk through a small narrow hallway to get to it. (The door on the right is the entrance to the maze in the photo below.)

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character....

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character….

 

 

—–

 

The current owners remodeled the infrastructure (kitchen, plumbing and code issues) while being careful to maintain the spirit of the building.    They improved the interior and reformed the menu.  Subsequent reviews show they accomplished their goal:

“Yes, I think they’ve done a knock-out job bringing this historic building back to life. It still feels like a dive bar, but now it has some much appreciated style going for it”. (Barfly 12/13/11)

"Droolworthy" old Blitz sign.....

“Drool-worthy” old Blitz sign…..

“Club 21 is back in action, following a change in ownership (now in the same capable hands as Gold Dust Meridian), and a lovingly-rendered makeover of the old gal.

Don’t worry – she looks like the best Club 21, ever. And, no more of that embarrassing body odor. These are all good changes – enlarged patio, enclosed and ventilated kitchen, new paneling, everywhere, annoying mini-flat screens, nowhere, a drool-worthy collection of beer signs and booze memorabilia.”

And this from Willamette Week (10/12/11):

Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz __ is even better than Pabst stuff
Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz signs are even better than Pabst stuff

“(Club 21) still looks like a little fish tank castle on the outside and feels like a ski lodge on the inside. But the former dive bar, which took only a slight hit in patronage while closed for upgrades this summer, has stepped up its style game considerably.

Its former duct-taped booths have been replaced by new upholstery; dingy old beer mirrors replaced by…well, even older Pabst paraphernalia; two pinball machines have turned into four; the patio now seats dozens of young blue-collar regulars…”

Double the fun.....
Double the fun…..

 

And everybody raves about the food, which once was described as, “….burgers that (came) from a stack in a frozen bag from Sysco.”

Willamette Week continues:

“The obscenely cheap food specials are out, but replaced by still-cheap and altogether more satisfying options, including an epic build-a-burger menu with endless variations (how about a housemade veggie patty on Texas toast with smoked Gouda.” 

 And we leaped at the chance to try their menu specialty, “Build-a-Burger (BaB)”.   (My selections are in bold) and as one City Search reviewer labeled it – “A fat kid’s dream.”

"Build a Burger" and add tater tots or onion rings

“Build a Burger” and add tater tots or onion rings

BaB is seven-step process commencing with picking your “foundation” – one of five options ranging from Oregon beef or prime rib, to fried or grilled chicken to a veggie burger and then your bread from  one five (whole wheat)  and selecting one of eight types of cheeses (pepper-jack).  Keep going with the sauces (sea and salt peppercorn, smoky pepper, 12 spice BBQ, Cajun, habanaro, Jamaican jerk) and condiments (A-1 sauce, sweet & saucy relish).

Check out the menu below which further illustrates the process.

Build-a-Burger - A construction project....

Build-a-Burger – A construction project….

If you want one of the eight extras for just a buck, add an eighth step (bacon, ham, fried egg, avacodo, caramelized onion, onion straws, sautéed mushrooms, anaheim peppers, pickled habanero, tomato bacon jam and grilled pineapple) – the works for only $8!

however

since it was Happy Hour – every day  from 3:00 until 7:00, we got a buck off on the food and $.50 off on our beer.  Side orders included fries tater tots, onion rings, green salads or Caesar salad).

A good menu - remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

A good menu – remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

————

All of us chowed down, supplemented by one of only four beers on tap (Rainier, Vaorizer, Boneyard or Kolisch).   We were so stuffed, we couldn’t even take advantage of the all-day breakfast special consisting of two eggs, hashbrowns, and toast for $5.

And Club 21 has a great juke box and live music periodically (“We’re not a rock show venue, but feature a few bands a several times each month.”)   Also check out some specials such as “Bottomless Mimosas” and “Comedy Brunches.”

They do not have a website but rely on minimal marketing through Facebook.

Don - the cook who is good at his job.

Don – the cook who is good at his job.

So if you are looking for info on the web about Club 21, be careful to be specific about the name and location. Otherwise, you will end up at the websites of venues with the same name in:

Oakland: Club 21 is the San Francisco Bay Area’s Hottest Gay & Lesbian Latin and Hip Hop Party Destination, the number #1 Gay Latin and Hip Hop Night Club.”

Galveston Island,Texas: (in the Historical District. Rated #2 out of 13 on Trip Advisor for nightlife) “Island Chic. Sophisticated. Relaxed. That’s the low-down on 21, Galveston Island’s premier spot for great times, great atmosphere, and great friends.”

Pueblo Colorado:  (The only strip club in Pueblo – rated at 2.5 stars out of 5  – mostly because “The dancers were burned out.”)

Or you could end up at the websites for the nightclub on West 52nd Street in New York City or a luxury retail story in Singapore.  Nevertheless, it appears that Marcus and Warren are going to stick with the name Club 21 and the history it embodies.

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets - tacky but quant.....

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets – tacky but quant…..

But if you want a no frills, old school environment with  exceptional burgers, a charming atmosphere with friendly regulars and helpful staff, no mixed drinks, a diverse juke-box and a good, albeit limited, selection of cheap draft beers, head to Portland’s Club 21.

And Marcus, why not hitchhike on Build-a-Burger (BaB) with BaBS (Build-a-Banana Split).  First you  select the ice cream flavor, then topping…….then……!

An inanimate regular at the bar

 

 

 

Club 21     2035 NE Glisan

 

 

 

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(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)