In one of my last posts entitled “Destiny of the Dives,” I listed a number of Portland bars and breweries that had closed based on the pandemic and resulting lockdowns and the civil disorder that was rampant in Portland last year. Unfortunately, there’s a couple more, both of which I had hoped might reopen, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Bailey’s Tap Room – right on Broadway in downtown Portland and known since 2007 for its robust tap list (its twenty-six rotating taps were displayed electronically) will definitely not reopen although that was the intent when it first closed.
Unfortunately, the Upper Lip – a great lounge on the upper floor of the same building – is also gone. The building was quickly sold and who knows if another watering hole will eventually take over the space. An article in Brewpublic.com echoed the same pessimistic outlook.
Willamette Week reported in a January article headlined “An Oregon economist could not think of another example of ‘an area that has so quickly fallen into disfavor.’”:
“Portland plunged from one of the most desirable cities for real estate investors to 66th among 80 cities (Urban Land Institute)….The reputational damage is what’s going to exacerbate or prolong what we saw unfold in 2020.”
Grixen Brewing – my former neighbor was one of the partners in this brewery opened in 2013 in SE Portland that featured a spacious taproom and good beer.
It was announced in August that they would temporarily close although their website now states:
“We have permanently closed. We are still navigating a way to keep the beer alive. Follow us on social channels for announcements.”
Well, there is nothing in social media or on the internet that updates that info except a piece in NewSchoolBeer.com in October stating “Lease the Former Grixen Brewery.” I hope I’m wrong, but don’t count on seeing them again.
Tax and Legislative Changes and Lifting of Restrictions
Fortunately, at least in Oregon, there are some positive developments which will now help bars and breweries after a tumultuous year.
Oregon Craft Brewers avoided what would have been a 100% tax increase: “The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress Dec. 21 includes a set of tax breaks that offer substantial relief for Oregon craft brewers, distillers, winemakers and cider makers, who are among the small businesses hit hard during the pandemic.”
As an example, a brewery that produces 10,000 barrels a year would have jumped from paying $35,000 a year to $70,000 a year in excise taxes
— At the end of 2020, Oregon Legislators passed a bill that allows bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks for offsite consumption – something the industry has been seeking for the last year statewide. It requires food with the drink order, but that’s a start.
— Because of falling COVID rates, “For the first time since November, restaurants, bars and brewpubs in the Portland metro area will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining rooms at a limited capacity at the end of the week.” (2/12)
So on 2/12, Portland area Beerchasers, while still practicing social distancing and wearing masks, could go out and support their local watering holes and not just sit in the cold with portable heaters.
And to show how it goes, just when the COVID restrictions were loosened, Portland and the burbs got hit with an incredible ice storm that closed roads, led to hundreds of thousands losing power and trees either coming down altogether or large limbs breaking under the weight.
Our own street and sidewalk looked like a behemoth tossed limbs like match-sticks.
But I’m confident normality will resume In Oregon. It’s just a matter of when and how one defines “normality!”
After all, it was reported by Willamette Week, that a recent national survey by the American Addiction Centers revealed that bars won out over gyms on which adults missed most. In Oregon bars won by a decent margin: 59% to 41%. Go figure!
The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory and a Sad Farewell..
Followers of this blog know that one of my favorite dives outside Oregon is Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage Alaska. I first came across this unique watering hole in 2014 and it has been serving beers (not on tap – just bottles and cans) for over forty years.
I always look forward to their pithy and biting quarterly newsletter – until I can return, but was glad to see in the latest edition that they reopened in late January:
“Several establishments won’t be opening at all. Some were old, established icons around town. (We will reopen) with the same wonderful staff that are known and loved – some as long as twenty six years. Some minor tweaks were done during the shutdown, but the same free popcorn and free Jukebox will still be there too…..So get vaccinated and let’s end this crap.”
My last mention of Darwin’s was to post a picture sent by Jon Magnusson’s – father-in-law to our older daughter when he and his wife, Nancy and two good friends, Dr. Bob and Stephanie Thompson visited Anchorage on a trip to see the Northern Lights in February, 2020.
I told them they had to check out Darwin’s and I got a text from Jon with the picture below and the comment, “Exploring Darwin’s – Great Place.”
We were shocked and saddened to learn that Dr. Bob passed away last week following a heart attack while swimming. He practiced Family Medicine in Seattle and was loved and respected by patients, colleagues and all who knew him.
In 2013, he was honored as the Outstanding Health Care Practitioner in Washington State and as stated by the CEO of the Valley Medical Center where he practiced for over thirty years:
“Dr. Bob, as he is fondly known, has worked at Valley for over 25 years and he is an emblem of what it truly means to be a tireless and compassionate care giver, committed to helping people in need.”
Dr. Bob Thompson was an outstanding person-of-faith who worked on many volunteer medical missions including Belize in Central America and Albania. He was active in numerous charitable organizations and a loving husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him.
New Times for Old Town
In an 8/16/20 Beerchaser post, I mentioned how entrepreneur, Adam Milne, the founder of the iconic Old Town Pizza in 2003 and his later expansion to Old Town Brewing, faced challenges during COVID and the riots/protests in Portland this summer.
They caused him to temporarily close one of his his two establishments – the downtown location as reported in a July 12 Willamette Week:
“‘The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75,’ he says….. ‘We really need help from the city. Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business.'”
While Old Town Pizza is still closed, he has not been sitting idle and will expand with another eastside location besides the Northeast Brewery.
Just this month, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark – he won’t change the name although it will now feature a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap. Baby Doll is known for its’s New York style pizza.
Parting with Encouraging Words
In my recent post, Destiny of the Dives, I bemoaned the loss of some historic Portland watering holes, but parted with a hint of optimism – that during and after the pandemic – required restrictions, a number of establishments have either expanded or innovated to stay open and in some cases, grow and prosper. The pent-up demand caused by isolation would be a beacon to Beerchasing…..
And then I came across an outstanding January 12th article from New School Beer.com that was stunning in the expansiveness of such plans in 2021 — The Most Anticipated Upcoming Oregon Breweries and Taprooms of 2021 — New School Beer + Cider
The most exciting news is the info about Steeplejack Brewing – plans to open this summer – a heartening story not only because of the spirit of the co-partners (Brody Day and Dustin Harder) who are two college buddies, but because their partnership and cooperative efforts with the Metropolitan Community Church.
The result – a wonderful historic landmark will be saved and still serve as a community gathering place. This is an incredibly ambitious project. Stay tuned and Godspeed!
“The church at NE 24th and Broadway is a landmark of Portland’s Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood known for it’s ornate steeple and long history.
The building’s most recent owners Metropolitan Community Church left the building in 2019 and it narrowly avoided being demolished. Turning down competing bids, the MCC leaders chose to sell the space to two homebrewers who wanted to keep the building intact and as a central hub or the community.”