Beerchaser Miscellany – Fall of 2017

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?

Phoebe in August 2011

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…..

Phoebe’s gift at my first stop on the Tour….

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/

A reunion six years later. And the beer is still served in Mason jars

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.

Having a brewski in the St. Johns Pub with University of Portland colleague, Dr. Sam Holloway

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.

In the Fulton Pub

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.””

The picture of the main character on the cover has a strong resemblance to ……

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.)

Author, poet and hero of Edward

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)

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/06/09/brian-doyle-beerchaser-eternal/

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/

Sam Adams at the Tugboat in 2013

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 Flyboy Management Team

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/

A remarkable beer

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.

It became the legendary Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery, named after one of his favorite towns in South Dakota:

“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 

Holly Eldridge, our server, and Jack Faust at the Buffalo Gap in 2011

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.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/12/14/the-buffalo-gap-saloon/

Beerchaser Miscellany – A Compendium of Trivia and Bar-related Information

fireworks beerchaser miscellany with beer glassPeriodically Thebeerchaser blog has a post that departs from reviewing a single bar, tavern or pub and attempts to update you on various topics that may be of interest:

Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Tavern and Pubs –  Initiated in August, 2011, this blog  recorded its 50,000 view on June 9th.   On that date, 51 individuals viewed 71 different Beerchaser posts.  The count included ten visitors from eight different countries including Germany, Australia, Nigeria, the Czech Republic and Coasta Rica. They hit the blog as a result of internet searches.

The 121 individual blog posts since inception (each averaging about 1,500 words) comprise reviews of 63 Portland establishments, in addition to about 71 watering holes in Europe, Colorado, Alaska, Eastern and Central Oregon, Washington, the Oregon Coast and the Southeastern US (not yet posted).

Jud after patrol 65

Cpt. Blakely USMC – after patrol in 1966

This blog has also “honored” twenty-two individuals or groups as Beerchaser-of-the-Month or Quarter ranging from authors, to academics to athletes to those directly connected with beer such as the Beer Goddess (Lisa Morrison) in April 2015.  Perhaps two of the most auspicious are Art Vandelay – CEO of Vandelay Industries and the crew of the USS Constitution.

Jud Blakely, besides being a hero for his actions in combat during the Viet Nam War and an excellent athlete and writer – as documented when he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in September 2013 – is also a whiz at using technology to communicate.

He is the talent behind the second and current Beerchaser logo and also responsible for the new “business cards” below – I often get requests from those I meet in watering holes to give them the blog address.  (Jud’s creativity is exemplified by the slogan on the back of the card.)

Front and back of new "business cards"

Front and back of new “business cards”

And Thebeerchaser traffic has increased…….Counts and averages for the last four years are as follow:

August – December 2011:  an average of 150 per month

2012:  6,703 views for an average of 558 per month

2013: 15,224 views for an average of 1,269 per month

2014: 18,098 views for an average of 1,508 per month

January through June 2015:  average per month has been 1,701

Bar Closings – A Concern Says Whom?  – I noted with interest a December 2014 article in Willamette Week entitled, “Closing Time” with a subheading, “2014 Was Barmageddon in Portland.”  The article maintained that the closing of notable bars such as Slab Town (reviewed in October 2013), Produce Row, the East Bank Saloon, and others such as Tiga, is the “canary in the coal mine.”  It quoted one bartender as stating, “Every good bar, everything you see is going under.  Everything is going straight to shit,”  

Slabtown - Gone but not Forgotten..

Slabtown – Gone but not Forgotten..

However, the good news is that the article may have vastly overstated the situation.   Anecdotally, Thebeerchaser in multiple visits to the nine PDX bars reviewed so far in 2015, ranging from dive bars such as the Yamhill Pub to genteel venues such as the Pope House Bourbon Lounge to the most recent historic gem, Kelly’s Olympian – has witnessed robust and enthusiastic crowds.

Step up to Joe's Cellar - now reopened

Step up to Joe’s Cellar – now reopened

And bars, like the mythical Phoenix, have a tendency to rise from the ashes.  For example, Joe’s Cellar reviewed September 2011, closed because of structural issues and was reportedly gone for good.  It reopened within a year and is now going strong.

The East Bank Saloon, a 36-year venue, was closed earlier this year and was reopened last month as “the blockbuster new bar” Bit House Saloon.  (“Look for barrel-stave flooring, lots of brick and brass, an atrium and big French doors blowing out to a new fire pit in the back.”)    The same scenario occurred with the Grand Café (reviewed in January 2013) whose proprietor was the well known, albeit controversial icon, Frank the Flake Peters, when he retired.  It closed but has now reopened as the Pour Sports Bar and Grill.

The Not-so-Grand Departure of the Grand Cafe

The Not-so-Grand Departure of the Grand Cafe

A WW article late last year speculated that the historic treasure – the Skyline Tavern (reviewed in January 2014)would be closed and the property developed.  The paper recently updated the news and reported that Scott Ray Becker, a local filmmaker, is the new owner and he plans to improve the bar including serving quality food rather than just micro-wave popcorn and pre-packaged sandwiches.  Produce Row has also reopened.

And there’s Marcus Archambeault and Warren Boothby, who previously have done wonders refurbishing or resurrecting  bars such as Club 21 (reviewed in September 2014) which replaced a lackluster predecessor.

They also opened Gold Dust Meridian (reviewed in October 2012) and the Double Barrel (reviewed in April 2015) – all of which have been visited (multiple times!) by TheBeerchaser and were great bars.

The refurbished Sandy Hut, is the latest example of their genius, and the changes to this historic dive bar  will ensure that the beloved “Handy Slut” will serve a lot more PBR in future years. “..the sort of rearrangement a mother might give her son’s bedroom after he finally moves out: scrub the stink out of the carpets, move some furniture around and open a damn window.” Willamette Week 6/24-30/2015

The "Handy Slut" is refurbished and cleaned up - so to speak.....
The “Handy Slut” is refurbished and cleaned up – so to speak…..

Not to belabor the point, but let’s also consider the new Loyal Legion Bar – scheduled to open in July 2015 at Southeast Sixth and Alder, (“….about 120 seats clustered around a circular bar with kegs kept in a 50-foot long walk-in cooler in the basement .”) serving 99 beers in the historic building formerly housing the Police Athletic Association.

Or there is the once resurrected Bitter End Saloon on West Burnside – a Portland Timbers bar reopened in 2013 – closed again in April 2015, but evidently to be reincarnated again – as St. Helens a new bar.

Ecliptic - one of the 58 in Portland - with more on the way.....

Ecliptic – one of the 58 in Portland – with more on the way…..

And what about breweries and brewpubs?  Portland now has more than any other city in the world – last year, according to the Oregon Brewers’ Guild, 28 new breweries opened in the Portland metro area.  The total is now 83.

Many bemoaned the acquisition of Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing by Annheiser Busch; however, shortly thereafter they opened a new 6,200 square foot pub in Portland on NW Flanders seating 175, with plans for a rooftop beer garden this summer .

Those like Thebeerchaser, who love the unique character and ambiance of Portland’s 750 + bars and taverns,  should be more concerned with trends such as Burgerville, Starbucks, Music Millenium and theaters serving beer – “Entering a movie theater that doesn’t serve alcohol feels like finding a dry county in Nevada.  (“It’s now) get your ticket, get your popcorn, get your pint.   In fact, it suggests that very soon, theaters which serve beer and wine will soon outnumber those which don’t.”

I hope your join me in believing that people should drink their beers at their neighborhood bar – not at a fast food joint, a coffee shop run by an international corporation or a Regal Cinema.  As quoted previously in this blog:

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.”  Samuel Johnson

“A bar is better than a newspaper for public discussion.” Author, Jim Parker

This is not to suggest that bar closures such as Slabtown, with its rich history, are not a loss and sterile corporate brew pubs don’t come close to replacing a venerable neighborhood bar.   However, there are still a lot of new establishments ready to garner a loyal clientele and join the idiosyncratic hole-in-the-walls just waiting to become the new Cheers.  The Lost and Found started by two female entrepreneurs in 2013 in North Portland is a great example.  Another one – Shift Drinks – recently founded by two former Multnomah Whiskey Library employees on SW Morrison.  Another trend is the advent of cider bars.P1020400

I will close this section with evidence from my own journey.  In almost four years, I have reviewed 63 different bars and pubs in Portland. (And almost all of them were memorable…)

Only 29 of these made the “2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide” – their reporters’ 125 favorite watering holes.  I am not worried about running out of establishments to visit on my continuing journey…..!

What About the Lawyers – I have talked to a number of lawyers for whom brewing was initially a hobby – until they realized that they enjoyed their avocation more than practicing law and are now an integral part of the craft brewing scene in Portland.  Examples are the owner of the Occidental Brewery in St. Johns and Kevin Brannon, now a partner in the new Beaverton venue, Brannons’ Pub and Brewery. There are others as well.

It’s also interesting to note how attorneys who are still practicing law are also getting involved in the micro-craft industry.  Even in 2010, the Portland Business Journal reported, “Oregon law firms are swallowing huge chunks of business as the state’s alcohol industry continues to thrive.  The workload of attorneys representing wine, beer and liquor distillery interests have jumped between 20 percent and 30 percent during the last year.”  (PBJ 11/19/2010)

American_Bar_Association_svgGiven some of the developments in the legal profession, perhaps the lawyer-to-brewer scenario will become a trend and lead to new “bars.”   An example is reported in the ABA Newsletter, which cites the Washington D.C. lawyer who is ending his law practice to open a gourmet grilled cheese establishment combined with a wine bar.  “Law lends itself to a certain kind of creativity, but this is a whole different thing.” (ABA Newsletter 2/26/2014)

And as Long as We Are on the Topic of Lawyers – My thirty-five + years  working with lawyers at the Oregon State Bar and the Schwabe Williamson firm made me appreciate the passion, intelligence, commitment to civic and charitable service and communication skills of most of the individuals in this honorable profession.  And one of the most interesting traits is their unabashed creativity in defending their position –  some people mistake this for arrogance…..

An outstanding firm with great lawyers....
An outstanding firm with great lawyers….

 Two of my favorite examples occurred a number of years ago, but are still good examples – both involve prominent Portland attorneys  and the accounts were reported in The Oregonian at the time.  The third is from the weekly American Bar Association newsletter – always a good source of bizarre legal stories

Akin Blitz : While driving his German luxury car over a mountain pass and trying to get ahead of multiple vehicles including an RV – he asserted in court with a Powerpoint presentation supporting his position – that he had no idea  he was traveling  76 mph in a 55 mph zone because of the vehicle’s “handling characteristics.”  The judge, in fining him $182, informed him that Mr. Blitz – not the automaker was at fault.

Marc AbramsEven more creative, this former Portland School Board member, explained his 88 mph speed (in a 65 mph zone) on Interstate 84 by the fact that he was following a deputy sheriff.  Making the case more interesting was the deputy’s response that he was going 75 mph when Abrams first started following him and the deputy increased to 88 mph before he cited Abrams who continued to follow him.  In a two-page letter to the court defending his actions the lawyer stated:

“I therefore have no basis to know my speed, having simply assumed I was within the limits on the basis of actions of the officer who subsequently cited me for doing precisely what he was doing.”

To bolster his position and because at the time, he was an Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General, the intrepid lawyer offered a second defense  – a statute that he asserted gave him immunity as a Justice Department employee (he was driving to Pendleton to meet with another lawyer on a State case).  Unfortunately, neither the judge nor Abrams’ boss at the time – Attorney General Hardy Myers – agreed with this rationale.   One of Myers’ Deputy AGs reportedly wrote in an interoffice memo that

  • The DOJ disagreed with this interpretation of ORS 464.530.
  • Abrams was not authorized to represent to the court that his argument reflects the views of the AG’s office.
  • The AG does not believe that any part of the state law immunizes the department’s employees from prosecution for traffic offenses.

The good news (at least for Abrams) was that the police officer cited him for the 75 mph speed and his ticket was $97 rather than $145 it would have been for the higher figure. (Based on the dollar amounts, you can tell that this was a number of years ago!)

scales of justice from italy

Texas Lawyer, Martin Zimmerman:  When his drunken driving defendant client blamed Zimmerman for his conviction (he didn’t remember his client’s name during jury selection, called no witnesses and fell asleep during the trial.)

“Zimmerman blamed sleep apnea for his naps during the trial….but defended his courtroom performance (rating it) an eight or nine out of ten……Zimmerman is planning on running for a judgeship next year, but he told the (Texas Express News) he doesn’t expect his napping to affect the election.” (ABA newsletter 9/18/13)

Deadwood, South Dakota (circa 1890)

Deadwood, South Dakota (circa 1890)

And Maybe a Lawyer Should be Retained by this Saloon – While Republican Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee has adopted the campaign manifesto “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” a Deadwood, South Dakota saloon has a slight deviation (so to speak).

As reported last year by the Associated Press, his business complex would include a gun shop, pawn shop and a combined shooting range/bar offering expensive cigars to be named The Bullets and Beer Saloon.  (Evidently his plans were successful as the link above is for the home page of their website)

“It’s all the things I like: alcohol, tobacco and firearms,” he stated.

To assuage those concerned about safety, he stated, No one shoots or handles a real gun unless they can blow a 0.00 on a breathalyzer.”   Furthering his business case, the proprietor also offers a simulator used to train law enforcement officers interactively.   “We’re not using live ammo or a live gun or anything like that……It’s almost like gun karaoke.”

And the Deadwood City Council is doing its part by requiring no more than 50% of the business income can be derived from alcohol sales.

Beerchasing on the Springwater Trail

Beerchaser, David Dickson on the Springwater Trail

Beerchaser, David Dickson on the Springwater Trail

Last month, to offer a respite on an 18 mile bike ride along Portland’s wonderful Springwater Trail, Beerchaser regular, David Dickson, and I stopped on the return loop to have lunch and a brewski at the Springwater Station – a great dive bar on 82nd Ave. where the bike corridor crosses.

“From the looks of the building design, both inside and out, this bar/restaurant must have been a beautiful place 20 or so years ago.   It is not currently a dive bar – but just give it a couple more years of neglect and it will easily fall into that category.” (Yelp June 2013)

The Springwater Saloon

The Springwater Station

April, the friendly and informative bartender, who also tends bar at Area 52“a blues bar with great jazz,” located in the Woodstock neighborhood on SE 52nd Str. filled us in.

David and I sat at the bar with some friendly regulars and consumed a draft beer while wolfing down a wonderful three-piece fish and chips special for the unbelievable price of $4.50.  (We decided to splurge rather than opt for the two-piece option for $3.50.)  If you are cycling or jus driving SE 82nd, stop and say hello to April.

April, the friendly bartender

April, the friendly bartender

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Marathon Taverna – What’s(a) in(a) a Name(a) ?(a)?

Not what you might expect!

Not what you might expect!

While working in downtown Portland for over thirty years, I would often promise myself that I would pay a visit to the Marathon – a bar housed in an interesting looking building on W. Burnside not too far from Providence Park (aka Civic Stadium).  I figured it was a dive bar with an eclectic group of regulars with a storied history – like some of the classic dive bars I’ve reviewed – Joe’s Cellar in NW Portland and the Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village were stellar.     P1020721

Perhaps it will keep you from reading the remainder of this post, but I was sorely disappointed by this watering hole – a pseudo sports bar with a paucity of character and little to distinguish it.

We should have instead opted for the nearby Cheerful BullPen, which has more character or Claudia’s with a rich history.

The saving grace was being accompanied by Beerchaser regular and Beerchaser-of-the Quarter Jack Faust and his son, Charlie.  Their company and conversation could make a discussion on the Rule Against Perpetuities seem interesting or make a soccer match ending in a scoreless tie, stimulating.  (I would get into trouble by suggesting more globally that such would be the case for any soccer match…..)

Faust & Son with Thebeerchaser logo

The Fausts with thebeerchaser logo

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but one or both have joined me for great trips to the Buffalo Gap Saloon, the Grand Cafe and Bailey’s TapRoomJack’s daughter, Portland radio personality, Amy Faust (99.5 The Wolf), recently Beerchased with us at the Rookery (review still pending).

Upon entering the Marathon Taverna, I raised the question as to why there was an “a” at the end of the word tavern. A taverna is defined as a small Greek café or restaurant.

Not the character or ambiance one would expect on West Burnside

Not the character or ambiance one would expect on West Burnside

There wasn’t any moussaka or souvlaki on the menu and no retsina wine or even ouzo or Mextexa Brandy to drink.  Alas, the only things Greek in this watering hole were Faust who was a Sigma Chi at Oregon, Thebeerchaser – an SAE at Oregon State and a few gyro sandwiches.  Socrates would not be impressed with that line-up.

And what’s with the name Marathon?  The website mentions that the bar – opened in 1974, was originally located in the Acropolis Tavern – also a well known Portland strip club, but whether this heritage is accurate could not be verified.

To better understand the lure of the Marathon, Charlie Faust suggested that instead of driving, we start in Marion County in the city of Donald.  A run to Portland with a short side-trip around Forest Park – would yield a route of 26.2 miles.   We would therefore honor the Greek soldier Pheidippides – who was reported to have died in 490 BC after his run from Marathon to Athens to proclaim the Greek victory over the Persians.  Before dying, he shouted, “We have won!”

I thought this would be fitting, since these are the same words Jack uttered when he represented Bing Russell and the Portland Mavericks in the now famous arbitration with Major League Baseball in the 1970’s and chronicled in the great new documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball.”

Jack Faust ordering a beer from the Marathon Bartender
Jack Faust ordering a beer from the Marathon Bartender

Jack, however, based on his undergraduate and law school days at the University of Oregon, countered with the suggestion that we each drink 8.75 pints of beer to arrive at the 26.2 milestone.  Looking at the photos below will demonstrate that his idea could offer some synchronicity, but his son and I demurred.

Jack Faust drinking a beer at the U of O after a 26 mile swim

Jack Faust drinking a beer at the U of O after a 26 mile swim

 

But we digress.  What was good about the Marathon Taverna?  Well, they have free popcorn – not a Greek dish, but still very good.  There are also a lot of TVs with different sporting events, if that’s what you like with your beer.  A small, but ardent group of  Portland Timber supporters was watching a match on one of the TVs –  20 high definition and a giant 92-inch monster.

Not Mediterranean, but free.
Not Mediterranean, but free.

There are nineteen reasonably-priced beers and also cocktails on their menu – but neither is listed on their website.

A number of reviews are positive about the gyros and the cheeseburgers – and their $2.00 breakfasts served until 2:00 P.M.  But the rather agressive and surly attitude of the staff was also mentioned multiple times in reviews – a downside, especially as you enter.

And this may be because of the physical layout confronting you when entering the bar – the only such arrangement I have seen in visiting over 50 bars in Portland.

There is a bouncer – a security guy, of sorts – sitting at a dias or throne-type arrangement which makes him look – and possibly act like Alexander the Great.  The “welcome” signs shout out, “No soliciting and “No Trespassing.”

Power hungry??

Power hungry??

Portland Barfly sums up this issue and the overall atmosphere of the venue quite well:

The  loyal shift of elderly patrons and the unsmiling doorman – those regulars may have been arriving every morning the past fifty years, but they’d best have their ID on hand to enter – are the only traces of The Marathon’s rather-more-dangerous past.

Plenty of TVs, but where are the grizzled regulars?

Plenty of TVs, but where are the grizzled regulars?

Weekend nights have largely been overtaken by a large, tight-knit, metal-happy, pool-playing, irritatingly-attractive group of twenty-somethings seemingly brought en masse from Beaverton for reasons beyond our imaginings.”

 A sentiment echoed by this excerpt from a City Search review:   Great place with horrible irrational staff – This used to be one of my favorite places until the last two times I’ve gone there, the bouncers have gotten extremely aggressive and kicked me out for no reason.”

Now perhaps the bar’s management feels that they need this type of defensive screening based on its Burnside location although the only altercation I could find occurred in 2008, and did not seem to be too savage.  As reported in Willamette Week:

A University of Portland grad is suing a Vancouver man for subjecting him to an uninvited bear hug outside a dive bar on West Burnside Street. In a lawsuit filed Sept. 10 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Patrick Geraghty claims that Brian Yoakum and his friends were standing outside the Marathon Taverna on Sept. 13, 2008.

Yoakum, “without warning, clutched [Geraghty] in a ‘bear hug’ and twisted [Geraghty’s] body after securing said hold,” the lawsuit says. Geraghty suffered a broken right foot as a result, according to the lawsuit. The suit, filed by Portland lawyer Sanam Dowlatdad, seeks seeks $75,000 for medical bills and lost wages, plus $500,000 for pain and suffering.

We don’t know if this suit settled or was tried, but for those wondering, Sanam Dowlatdad, after graduating from Willamette Law School, worked as Multnomah County Deputy DA and then at the Cosgrove Vergeer Kester law firm, before establishing her own firm in 2011.

Charlie Faust and Thebeerchaser - good company but no ambiance.

Charlie Faust and Thebeerchaser – good company but no ambiance.

No Greek national flag either.....

No Greek national flag either…..(Faust and Son)

And the only other egregious conduct recorded is that of Welches area con-man named, David Wilson.  Several years ago he purportedly tried to scam those at the Marathon and nearby establishments by stating that he was desperate for a loan because he’d lost his wallet at a Timbers game and couldn’t get his car out of the parking lot.

 

I guess if you just want nothing more than a cheap beer and to watch a sporting event, hit the Marathon.  But unless you can get the Fausts to join you or maybe start running from a mile and one-half east of the Vista House on the Columbia River Highway – it would allow your marathon to finish at the Marathon – it may not be fulfilling.

 

Marathon Taverna           1735 West Burnside

 

 

 

 

 

Beerchaser Miscellany

Thebeerchaser’s tour of Portland pubs, taverns and bars and this blog commenced in August 2011.  My education on blog software is continuing and I hope to make it easier in the future to find items on the site; however, it may be helpful until that time to recap the venues reviewed in categories during the last ten months.

The next review will be posted this week and recaps our visit to Interurban, which will be followed by a visit to the historical Mock Crest Tavern.

Neighborhood Bars

  • Brooklyn Park Pub
  • Gladstone Street Pub
  • Hawthorne Hideaway
  • Laurelthirst Public House
  • Muddy Rudder Public House

“Taking the Plunge…”

Dive Bars (Not a negative connotation – see post entitled “Analyzing Dive Bars – Head First” from September)

  • Ash Street Saloon
  • Dixie Tavern
  • Joe’s Cellar
  • Yukon Tavern

Brew Pubs

  • Amnesia Brew Pub
  • Coalition Brew Pub
  • Migration Brew Pub

Miscellaneous Bars and Pubs – In a Class of Their Own

  • The Buffalo Gap Saloon
  • Proust
  • The Twilight Room (Could be considered somewhat of a neighborhood pub but also a traditional  “hang-out” for watering hole for University of Portland students)

Followers  of the blog have asked if I have identified a favorite establishment to this point.  While every visit has been positive, probably two tie as favorites for different reasons:  The Laurelthirst and The Twilight Room.

Beerchasers of the Month

This label above is a misnomer because only five of the ten months have named an “honoree” as follows:

  • Princeton University professor and author of On Bullshit, Dr. Harry Frankfurt
  • Crime novelist, James Crumley
  • Retired chemical engineer and drinker, Harold Schlumburg
  • The bartenders of the Brooklyn Park Pub, the Gladstone Street Pub, Prost and the Twilight Room

Efforts will be made to bestow that honor more frequently, however, my favorite to this point is the esteemed Dr. Frankfurt, who responded to thebeerchaser’s e-mail informing him of the distinction and he became a follower of the blog.

BS Expert – Dr. Harry Frankfurt

Beer-related Lawsuits

Having worked in a law firm for twenty-five years and at the Oregon State Bar prior to that time, I collected a lot of law-related articles and memorabilia. In reviewing old files, I came across my favorite law suit – reported in The Oregonian in 1976. It documents a $53,000 suit filed against the Mount Angel Oktoberfest in Marion County.

The plaintiff, Robert Rispler, claimed the portable toilet he entered at the annual Oktoberfest was pushed over by unruly patrons and he was “violently thrown about inside said portable toilet, became intimately mixed (emphasis supplied) with the contents thereof and sustained a fracture of his right wrist and other contusions and abrasions.”                                                          

A Lawsuit Dr. Frankfurt Might Appreciate

Unfortunately additional research on the results of this suit are beyond the resources of thebeerchaser although a quick search of the internet found two Robert Risplers – one, a 1974 graduate of Reynolds High School in Portland (he would have been too young to drink legally….) and one who is now Director of Accounting at Fannie Mae in Washington DC.  Thebeerchaser avoids political commentary (at times) and will omit any direct or indirect implications related to federal agencies.

Favorite Bar Jokes

Although my archives has more lawyer jokes than bar jokes, this blog needs to return to more relevant topics in this post and will finish with a few bar jokes, which will also grace future posts:

  • A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, that’s really cool.  We have a drink named after you. The grasshopper looks at him skeptically and says, “You have a drink named Murray?”

  • A piece of toast, a glass of orange juice, some hash browns and a side of eggs walk into a bar and they order four beers.  The bartender says, “I’m sorry we don’t serve breakfast here.”
  • A physician, a nurse, a rabbi and a bulldog walk into a bar and the bartender says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

Spring Training in Phoenix

Thebeerchaser and spouse were privileged to take in a few games during Spring Training in Phoenix in March.  While the tour of pubs is restricted to Portland, we visited and observed a number, which generated these observations:

It seemed like every bar we passed was jammed with people especially from about 4:30 to 7:00 and not necessarily because of Happy Hours.  It may be that given urban sprawl in this badly planned metropolis, that people don’t try to drive during rush hour and just hit a bar each day.  Rotating designated drivers keep things legal.         

It also seemed that many of the venues had multiple levels to accommodate all the patrons (see pictures below).  Perhaps it was also the hot weather.  It was ironic that it cost $4 for a bottle of water at the baseball games when one could get a PBR for $1.50 at the pub across the street.  It brought to mind, beerchaser of the month, Jame’s Crumley’s  request from his main character, C.W. Sughrue, “I want a beer as cold as my ex-wife’s heart.”

Of special interest was the Irish Pub, shown below, that also served as a saddelry.    

Did you hear the one about the horse that walked into the bar? **

*Bartender says, “Hey! Why the long face?”                     

Christmas and Holiday Cheer from thebeerchaser

Since starting this blog a few months after I retired in late May this year, I have visited nine establishments on thebeerchaser’s Portland bar tour.  They have included:

  • Classic “dive bars” such as the Yukon in Sellwood and Joe’s Cellar in NW Portland,
  • Traditional neighborhood pubs such as the Brooklyn Park Pub, the Gladstone Street Pub and the Twilight Room,
  • Brew Pubs including Coalition and Amnesia and
  • Some distinguished alehouses or watering holes that don’t fit a category including the Buffalo Gap Saloon and Prost

In June, the beerchaser got his start

Some felt this Tour was not too smart

Portland bars are North, South, East and West

How does one locate the pub that’s best?

Yukon, Gladstone Street, Coalition, Buffalo Gap all deserve a toast

Don’t forget the T-Room, Amnesia, Joe’s Cellar and Prost

And the Brooklyn Park was a wonderful fit

But……

There are more bars to see before I quit.

Many “Frosty” mugs to drink before I quit.

May your New Year be a happy one,

From thebeerchaser and his tour of Portland taverns “Bar None”

                  Amnesia Brew Pub

The Brooklyn Park Pub

The Coalition Brewing Co. Pub

                                                              The Twilight Room

                 The Yukon Tavern

The beerchaser tour will resume in January.  Make  your suggestions for establishments that deserve a visit.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

thebeerchaser