The Brooklyn Park Pub – Revisiting the First Stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs and One of My Favorite Bartenders
Seven years ago, when I decided to implement my crazy idea as a retirement hobby, I was concerned about how it would be perceived by the bartenders I would interview. For it to be successful, I needed them to answer my questions about what makes their bar different, comment on the tavern’s regulars and offer info on their own background.
Would they dismiss these inquiries as some old guy with idiosyncratic tendencies or support the idea that highlighting the history and distinguishing factors of Portland’s many watering holes was a cool idea?
Well, my trepidation was unnecessary when the first bartender I interviewed became one of the most memorable. Phoebe Newcomb was behind the bar at the Brooklyn, a great little Southeast neighborhood pub – and still one of my favorites after seven years.
She told me about the Whiskey Club, talked about the tradition of serving their draft beers in Mason jars and to check out the woodchuck posters…..
When I told her that the Brooklyn was my first of what I hoped would be many bars on the tour, she gave me a Brooklyn Park Pub cap and signed it. I still remembered her charming and distinctive laugh that echoed through the bar as she was interacting with her customers.
In July, I was reviewing Willamette Week’s Best of Portland issue and discovered that third place for Best Portland Bartender was none other than Phoebe, who now works at the Landmark Saloon besides the Brooklyn.
This motivated me to return to the first of what has become 85 Portland bars and another 125 in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, a slew of places in the continental US and all over Oregon on Thebeerchaser’s tour of Bars, Tavern and Pubs. https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/08/07/the-first-establisment-on-the-chase/
I was not disappointed in Phoebe’s reaction when I again told her my story and that I had returned to thank her for the positive kickstart to Thebeerchaser’s Tour. I donned the treasured BPP hat and one of the regulars took our picture.
Brian Doyle – His Legacy Lives On – As followers of Thebeerchaser blog and those who appreciate good literature know, we lost a great human being in May with the passing of Brian Doyle who succumbed to brain cancer. Brian was prolific, authoring about thirty books including novels, collections of short stories and penetrating essays, was the editor of the award-winning Portland magazine published by the University of Portland and a gifted speaker.
I met Brian in 2013 when I informed him by letter that I had named him my eleventh Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and all it required for him to receive the “award” (a pint of beer) was to meet me for an interview at the saloon of his choice. He chose the Fulton Pub.
We had drinks after that on a number of occasions and corresponded by e-mail in which he never failed to demonstrate his positive view of humanity, his religious faith and his imaginative and fanciful sense of humor.
I was therefore pleased when in July I received an e-mail request from the Design Editor of Melbourne Catholic Magazine in Australia requesting permission to use one of the pictures posted in a tribute to Brian in the blog shortly after his passing. I laughed when I found out that they selected the one I took at the Fulton Pub the first time we raised a mug.
The article entitled, “Minor Prophets – A Tribute to a Favourite Author” will be published in September. Ann Rennie, the author, states in part:
“(Minor prophets) remind us of the universal and eternal. They remind us of God and of good, and the everyday revelation of the glory in life in all its weariness and work and woe; in its humdrum, ordinary decency and its scintillating, soul stirring wonder. One such profit (was) the American writer, Brian Doyle, whose beautiful words, written with candour and joy and lyricism, help us to find again the simple and larger truths.””
I recently finished Chicago the second to the last novel which Brian wrote in 2016 and it’s my favorite – it’s a perfect example of his keen observations of nature, people and events, some of which many would view as trite or inconsequential. I’m sure that Brian could have ridden the #33 Tri-Met bus (McLoughlin Blvd…..) from Oregon City into Portland and have written a lengthy and entertaining essay (with very long sentences…..) on what he observed that would have been a good read.
As with another one of my favorite Doyle novels, Martin Marten, I fold back pages as I read so I can go back and write down phrases or paragraphs I want to ponder and remember. (The book ends up having more pages with folds than those that are not.)
You should read Brian’s account of Chicago – his descriptions of Chicago White Sox games and players and the Chicago Bulls, gyros, meeting former NBA great Artis Gilmore on a walk, street basketball, Lake Michigan and dribbling his “worn and shiny basketball” through miles and miles of the urban landscape. And as in Martin Marten, one of his main characters is an intriguing, erudite and marvelously resourceful animal – this one, a talking dog named Edward who had a strong and enduring admiration for both Abe Lincoln and Walt Whitman.
“But to say of Edward merely that he was a dog and leave the description at that, would be a grave disservice not only to him but to you, for he was one of the most subtle and gracious beings I ever met, and the litany of his adventures alone would fill a shelf of books, before getting to his influence on other beings, for example, which was both considerable and renowned, so much so that creatures of various species would come to Edward for consultation and counsel, from birds to people of all manners and modes of life.” (Chicago page 2)
The following is a description of his main character’s daily walks in Chicago as he ambled (dribbled…) through countless blocks of the urban landscape. I offer this as one of many examples why Ann Rennie ended her article with the words, “Thank you Brian, for words that warmed our hearts, enlarged our minds and touched our souls.”
“….So I walked; and there were days when I thought it likely that I had walked farther and deeper in Chicago that day than anyone else in the whole city, and this was a city of three million souls…
..I met a roan horse….I met buskers by the score, a hundred street basketball players, dozens of people fishing the lake. I met librarians and bookshop owners and probably every gyro vendor north and west of the Loop. I met train conductors and bus drivers and taxi drivers….I met teachers and policemen (curiously, never a police woman) and many mayoral candidates – it seemed like every other person in the city that year was running for mayor – and bartenders. (Chicago – page 188)
Pondering Those that Come and Go – I am saddened to report that one of Portland’s most iconic breweries has “chugged” into the sunset. The Tugboat Brewery, which I visited with former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams in March 2013 and was downtown Portland’s oldest craft brewery, was severely water-damaged when the ceiling of the apartment above it in the Stewart Hotel collapsed. While initially, the plan was to open after repairs, the damage was evidently too extensive.
They posted a sign which stated, “The flea bag hotel above us had an arson fire…..that caused water damage to our pub.” https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/03/08/say-tug-boat-brewery-ten-times-really-fast/
Similarly, MadSon’s Pub closed in August although no reason was supplied other than rumors of electrical and HVAC issues which would have required extensive repairs. MadSon’s was a cool and spacious neighborhood-type bar on the near Eastside which had a nice ambiance and a superb brunch. My first visit was with Portland lawyer, Jack Faust and his clan.
Add the Hop & Vine on North Killingsworth to the list of closures after eight years of serving beer and wine to its loyal customers. And, of course, the historic and famous Lotus Cardroom, in downtown Portland is also gone in the name of development.
Fortunately, some other rumored closings did not occur including Tony’s Tavern, a noted dive bar for twenty-one years on West Burnside. Like Joe’s Cellar, Tony’s reportedly closed because of lease issues, but reopened and is back in business. This is fortunate. As one of Tony’s bartenders stated in the Willamette Week clip “It’s where people are friendly. Some of our customers are assholes, but they’re friendly.”
Other rumors of closings which fortunately did not become a reality were the Laurelthirst Public House and the Dockside, which will see a multi-story office building built immediately adjacent to it. The Dockside is “best known locally as the place Tonya Harding’s then husband, Jeff Gillooly, tried to dispose of evidence in the kneecapping of (Olympic figure skater) Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.” (Willamette Week)
And Some That Thrive….! – I am happy to report that on a recent and one of many return visits to what has become one of my favorite brewpubs – FlyBoy Brewing in Tigard, Mark Becker and Michelle Faubion report that their expectations have been exceeded since the opening earlier this year. The City of Tigard has been very helpful in the permit process and they will be opening a new patio in front of the pub in several weeks.
The newest of the Flyboy Brews — Pilot’s Peach Ale (ABV: 5.50%) has been well received (It had sold out on my visit) and Michelle stated that some patrons are mixing it with Flyboy’s White Cloud Imperial IPA (5.80% ABV). My first pint of the Peach Ale is one – not the only reason – I keep returning. https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/flyboy-brewing/
Drop by and try some of the thirty beers on tap and the great food on their menu. Happy Hour is from 3:00 to 6:00 each weekday.
Thebeerchaser Goes Civic – I was pleased to be able to make a repeat performance relating the story of Thebeerchaser blog and why it has become a wonderful retirement hobby – this time in August at the Lincoln City Rotary Club. I made the same presentation to the West Linn Rotary Club in 2016.
They appeared to enjoy the stories on the dive bars, especially since one of my favorites is Lincoln City’s venerable Old Oregon Saloon. And it was gratifying when the principal of one of the local schools came up afterwards and said, “I loved the dive bar stories and descriptions. I grew up in one. My parents owned a dive bar in Washington.”
Farewell to a Portland Legend – Born in Hot Springs, South Dakota, Jack Stutzman died in Portland last week at the age of 77. He graduated from Oregon’s West Linn High School and found his niche in the bar and restaurant business after Army service. His first tavern, the Green Spot was followed by The Local Gentry, Gassy Jack’s and he then purchased the Hoot Owl in John’s Landing in 1973.
“The Gap grew from a seating capacity of 25 to 250……Became a neighborhood tavern, a home away from home. It sheltered a diverse crowd from all walks of life, the neighbors, the young and old party goers, the students from Lewis and Clark, the medical community from OHSU, the commuters between PDX and Lake Oswego, the occasional celebrity and everyone in between.” From obituary in Oregon Live
The Gap was one of Thebeerchaser’s first watering holes visited when this blog started in 2011 with Beerchaser regular, Jack Faust. Drop by this great saloon which still thrives on SW Macadam and toastJack Stutzman’s memory.