Brannon’s in Beaverton – Part II

P1030163Followers of this blog will remember the last post on Brannon’s – the new Beaverton pub and brewery located in the former Latin night club – The Blue Iguana.  The story of co-owner Kevin Brannon as a brewer, lawyer and scuba instructor was also covered in detail because of his amazing life experiences to this point.

Brannon - someone who is not a beginner in the brewery business.

Brannon – someone who is not a beginner in the brewery business.

So let’s talk about his new venture – a 10,000 square foot venue which opened in December 2014 and offers a great selection of Brannon’s own beers, guest taps, craft cocktails and a robust menu.

A small sample of the robust spread at the pre-opening gala

A small sample of the robust spread at the pre-opening gala

My first visit to Brannon’s was for the October pre-opening – a well-attended and upbeat affair.  Next time it was for lunch with five tax lawyers and one of my favorite legal assistants. (See below)

According to an article in the Portland Tribune (July 18, 2014)

“The restaurant will brew numerous styles of beer on site and specialize in stone hearth-baked pizzas prepared in the Neapolitan style, spit-roasted meat and fowl, salads, pastas, house-made bread and a range of pub-oriented specialities, with an emphasis on local ingredients.

The kitchen is a strength

The kitchen is a strength

‘We will have gluten free and vegan versions of everything,’ (Brannon) said. ‘It’s pub food kicked up a notch. I find the term ‘gastropub’ to be pretentious, but that’s kind of what we’re doing.’” 

So how is the food?  A January Willamette Week review stated, “It might have been a  lucky night, but the kitchen sent out an impressive Neopolitan pizza with chewy character-rich crust good enough to push into Portland’s top ten pies.”

And to illustrate take the rack of ribs that one of our party ordered for lunch.  As you can see from the picture below, it was huge and all of us who sampled thought it was an A+.  The rest of us ordered sandwiches which were also very good.

No question about the quality and quantity of the ribs.....

No question about the quality and quantity of the ribs…..

One of the joys of Beerchasing – besides discovering new watering holes and drinking good beer – is the people. Meeting those who work in the bars, talking to “regulars” and connecting with drinking buddies who share the experience is uplifting to say the least!

For example, I mentioned my lunch companions in January – a legal assistant and five tax lawyers, all of whom work or worked at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt where I labored for twenty-five years before retiring.

Each attorney, not only graduated with a law degree and passed the bar exam, but all then went on to get their Masters in Tax (LLM) after law school.

From left:  Pete Osborne, Dan Eller, Katherine Van Zanten, Roy Lamber and Marc Sellers

From left: Pete Osborne, Dan Eller, Katherine Van Zanten, Roy Lamber and Marc Sellers

 

You might ask, “Can’t you find more stimulating companions than tax geeks?”  A logical follow-up question would be:  “Were these attorneys advised by  their parents when they were young to pursue the tax lawyer route because their personalities were not good enough to be actuaries or accountants?”

 

The answer is an emphatic “no!”  As evidence let’s briefly look at their profiles:

Pete Osborne

Pete Osborne

Pete Osborne: Law Degree at Willamette U and LLM at New York University (NYU).  Pete is known by his peers as one of the smartest tax lawyers in Portland and has been known, on occasion, to return to Portland with both a big smile and winnings from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas (Senior Division….).  Also a talented artist and his etchings are impressive.  Adjunct Professor at Portland State in their Graduate Tax Program.

Osborne etching
Osborne etching

 

Dan Eller:  Law Degree at Lewis and Clark and LLM at University of Washington.  Received the prestigious Joyce Ann Harpole Scholarship and other law school honors at Lewis and Clark.  Dan is an avid outdoorsman and cyclist and frequently cycles around the base of Mt. Bachelor.  Active in numerous civic boards and a scout leader for his kids.

Dan Eller

Dan Eller

 ———–

 

Katherine Van Zanten: Law Degree at Golden Gate University and LLM at Boston University.  Katherine is an avid skier and a girl scout leader for her kids.  Also active in the Oregon State Bar Tax Section.  A robust sense of humor that would keep even IRS auditors in stiches.

Katherine Van Zanten

Katherine Van Zanten

 

 

Roy Lambert:  Law Degree at Columbia University and LLM at NYU.  Roy is an active masters competitive swimmer with some regional records.  In retirement, he audits courses in medieval and Renaissance history at Portland State.  He and his wife spend part of the year at a lake property in Maine where he is involved in environmental non-profits.

 

Roy Lambert

Roy Lambert

Marc Sellers
Marc Sellers

 Marc Sellers: Law Degree at Georgetown and LLM at Loyola U.  Marc was described by the managing partner of a major regional CPA firm as his “go to” tax litigator and a fearless “take no prisoners” trial lawyer.

He was the first attorney in the U.S. to obtain an award of attorney fees against the Internal Revenue Service under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.  This courtroom mentality may have been derived from his dedication to martial arts for many years where he competed at regional and national championship levels.  He was also an accomplished mountaineer and volunteer in mountain rescue.

A firm with a tradition of civic and charitable service

A firm with a tradition of civic and charitable service

Some – but certainly not all – of the civic and charitable activities in which these lawyers have  been involved include the Beaverton School District Board, the Portland State University Foundation, the Lewis and Clark Public Interest Law Project, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lake Oswego School District Foundation, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Beaverton Rotary Club and Foundation, the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, the Portland Police Activities League and the Portland Opera Association.

And of course, another advantage to having this erudite crew as drinking companions is the ribald conversation.  Typically in a bar it would be, “How bout those Blazers?”  or “Did Cylvia Hayes really think we were that naïve?”  Instead, we had a prolonged discussion on Pete Osborne’s paper entitled, “Stock Redemptions and Non-liquidating Distributions.” 

When discussed in the context of Marc Sellers’ advisory tome, “Owners of Undisclosed Foreign Bank Accounts May Have One More Bite at Voluntary Disclosure,” it made LaMarcus Aldredge’s thumb injury seem pretty inconsequential!           

Roy Lamber, Kevin Brannon and Gretchen Reuter with Thebeerchaser logo

Roy Lambert, Kevin Brannon and Gretchen Reuter with Thebeerchaser logo

One cannot forget one of our female companions – Gretchen Reuter, a legal assistant for thirty-four years, who provided invaluable work for both Kevin Brannon and Roy Lambert, while they were at the firm.  She trained to “herd” her timekeepers by growing up on a cattle ranch in Dallesport, Washington.

She was one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite professionals before my retirement because of her positive attitude, competency and team efffort.

Now back to Brannons and why you should try it out:

P1030166

Brannon friend Ham Emery at the pre-opening

Technology:  Besides the automation he uses to brew his beer, Brannon’s customers have access to High Def. Multi Interface ports at most of the tables so they can watch a Blazer game or cable on their own console or pursue on-line activities.P1030187

 

Game Room:  Memories of college returned when seeing the Air Hockey  – it plays the Star Spangled Banner when someone scores, a Foosball table and Pop-a-Shot basketball and darts.  In fact, Brannon’s is home court for two teams in the Portland Dart AssociationP1030186

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And there are 24 high-definition television screens scattered throughout the bar and meeting rooms for sporting events.  An appropriate time to reaffirm the personal philosophy of Fall 2013 Beerchaser-of-the Month, Jud Blakely:

P1030159

Beerchaser Philosopher Jud Blakely in formative years....
Beerchaser Philosopher Jud Blakely in formative years….

“Bars, taverns, and pubs are the fundamental reasons that souls consigned to Purgatory have chosen not to be “elevated” on up to Heaven.  When you combine them with a cable feed of NFL channels, what you have is an all-powerful lure to forgo the promise of the pure goodness of Heaven. 

 

As for myself––speaking as a 100% lapsed Catholic––I look forward to being consigned to Purgatory.  No sane American male would wish upon himself an eternity in Heaven when Purgatory and the NFL await. “

The Beer and the Food:  Brannon’s, like any new enterprise, is shaking out some kinks – refining its menu, service and pricing, but the reviews are almost uniformly positive about a key pub issue — THE BEER!

From the three available last October, Brannon’s own brews have increased to ten and reflect the passion and expertise honed over his years in brewing.  I tried five in their sampler – a bargain at $7 – with my favorite being the Heliograph IPA  (“Bursting with pungent pine, tropical berries, and black pepper, which is backed up by intense NW hop bitterness”– which also happens to be their best seller.  However, I also will return for a pint of their Deputation Red Ale.  Check them out by buying a growler.

Now ten of their own beers
Now ten of their own beers

They also have eight craft cocktails including the Blue Iguana – named for the predecessor night club.

And finally, the pub’s furnishing are very impressive – again reflecting Kevin Brannon’s personal philosophy:

“My partners and I have a profound respect for the craftsmen and craftswomen who design things, and bring them to life with their hands for wood, metal, and whatever else they have to work with. Everything at Brannon’s, from the sign out front to the furnishings and bar, was handcrafted by friends and family here in the Pacific Northwest.”

P1030193

As summarized in one December Yelp review, “Finally a good Brewpub in central Beaverton.  Good beer, good food, good service, They have a full bar, game room, party rooms.  Worth a stop.” 

————

Brannon’s Brewery and Pub

3800 SW Cedar Hills Road

503-567-8003

Brannons’ in Beaverton…..Part I

 P1030181

Beaverton is not the sexiest location for a brewery compared to venues such as Bend, Hood River or Astoria, but at least it has more suburban panache than Gresham.  That said, Brannons’ Pub and Brewery is a classy new watering hole – one that replaces the notorious Blue Iguana and brews excellent beer along with great food.

Thebeerchaser and Kevin Brannon

Thebeerchaser and Kevin Brannon

Kevin Brannon, the co-owner, is also a good friend, having practiced law at my former firm, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt before he decided to return to his “roots” in the brewery business – as stated in the recent Willamette Week review, “(the beer is for now) decidedly classic, a reflection of owner, Kevin Brannon, who’s pinponged between corporate law and brewpubbing for for the past twenty years.”

So let’s define “ping ponged,” by giving some interesting history on Kevin while also gaining a brief perspective on The Blue Iguana.  In 1991 Kevin, after practicing law for a number of years, in a fit of entrepreneurial risk, co-founded and built a very successful brewery – the Frederick Brewing Company – in Maryland and managed its amazing expansion until it became one of the largest craft breweries in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

This former attorney with an infectious grin and dry sense of humor was an outstanding business and corporate lawyer whose clients loved him.  He  joins a number of his legal brethren I have met since Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced.

The scales of justice - can also used to measure brewing components....

The scales of justice – can also used to measure brewing components….

They’ve become interested in brewing – first as a hobby, and then decide they enjoy the challenge of concocting the right blend of barley, malt and hops more than they enjoy analyzing the Rules of Hearsay in the Federal Evidence Code (including exceptions and exemptions…..)

P1030163My two trips to Brannon’s – once for the pre-opening with my wife and once with a group of tax lawyers – impressed me with the quality of their beer, the kitchen and the manner in which Kevin has used technology to give his patrons options while drinking.

Technology at each table...
Technology at each table…

 

Thebeerchaser has found that the history of watering holes is often very interesting and Brannons’ is no exception.  The Blue Iguana was a restaurant and Latin night club where one could gorge on large servings, drink margaritas, salsa dance and maybe even hire a contract killer.  As described in a 2009 Willamette Week review:

As much of sleepy Beaverton shuts down for the night, the Blue Iguana’s neon sign lights up Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard. Large men in dark clothing block the club’s doorway. “I need to pat the guys down to check for weapons,” one says. “The ladies can just go in.”

Past the first set of glass doors, a woman behind a ticket counter says, “Twenty-five dollars, por favor.”   Inside a second set of glass doors is a large room with a bar and two dance floors (one of them elevated) where couples grind to pounding music.

Most of the men are wearing cowboy hats, tight denim pants and cowboy boots. The women wear high heels and very tight everything. At 1 am, many people are just starting to arrive at the Blue Iguana, which stays open until 3 am.

Or check out this headline and excerpt from KGW.com in 2012: “Beaverton bar fight ends with man being run over.  KGW spoke with the property manager of the Blue Iguana who said police are often called to the Latin night club. She said she was not surprised to hear about the incident and the bar has problems with fights spilling out into the parking lot.”

And not to belabor the point, but one other review from a few years back also offers some insight:

I was thrown out Saturday night for having the nerve to type on my laptop at the bar. Owner sez he’s afraid someone will spill a watery margarita on my Dell and he’ll be liable. This, from a place that probably sends a truckload of drunks onto Cedar Hills Boulevard every weekend night. Perhaps I should have tried to convince him that all of the cinnamon roll crumbs would absorb any oopsies. Skip ’em, I say.

Wikimedia commons - public domain (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angus_bellowing.jpg) by Sallico 1/9/2009

Black Angus – more docile although less profitable than Blue Iguanas…

Well, things were a lot calmer when Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Steak House was the tenant, although it brings back memories of a franchise which had better baked potatoes than filets.  As an aside, the owner of the Black Angus group filed for bankruptcy in 2004 with approximately $202 million in debt and an annual loss of $32.5 million.  In 2009, the group attempting to rebrand and remodel the chain also went banko.  (Wikipedia)

Frederick Brewing Company

Frederick Brewing - Getting started....

Frederick Brewing – Getting started….

The story of Frederick Brewing (FBC) is interesting and an enterprauenerial success story that could be a blog post in itself.  With some of the pictures and stories Kevin related while I was drinking one of the Brannon beer samplers, his east-coast brewing journey is worth summarizing:

Brannon is from humble roots – Lebanon, Oregon and went to Stanford for his undergraduate degree where he walked-on and made the baseball team.  He became a community organizer in Montana during the coal boom.  Unlike the incumbent with a similar background, he didn’t think that qualified him to run for President of the United States, so he enrolled in Willamette Law School’s excellent combined MBA/Law Degree program.

Happiness is a young lawyer with capitalist inclinations.....

Happiness is a young lawyer with capitalist inclinations…..

While learning to analyze torts and discounted cash flow models, he also started brewing beer.   After passing the bar in 1984, he practiced at NW firm, Preston, Gates and Ellis for seven years before being lured to West Virginia with his fiancé.

He denies any assertion that the country classic, “She was only a whiskey maker, but I loved her still,” had anything to do with their move east.  Actually, it was one of his clients who persuaded him.  The options were to either open a fly shop or a brewery so in 1991, after purchasing a Smith Carona word processor, selling his house and cashing in his 401(k) he made the leap.

Brannon and his partners wrote their business plan, soliciting investors and did their “pilot brewing” in a rented 18th– century house in West Virginia, where they brewed in the cellar (improved by dumping lime and a bunch of ¾ inch gravel on the floor – one reason why he was separated from the Environmental lawyers at Schwabe Williamson)

As Brannon relates it:

The first leased quarters were in this building

The first leased quarters were in this building

 Armed with little more than $200,000 in investor dollars and more confidence than common sense, we leased a building in downtown Frederick…….Because we had a deal to supply our Blue Ridge Golden Ale to the new stadium housing the Frederick Keys – the Single A affiliate of the Orioles – we bought a couple hundred “nasty old kegs and contracted with a now defunct Michigan brewery to produce it.  

A much younger, Kevin Brannon inspecting his product in Frederick, Md.

A much younger, Kevin Brannon inspecting his product in Frederick, Md.

We were under construction so we leased a falling-down warehouse, bought and repainted a refridgerated truck from a peach farmer and started selling beer to the ballpark and local bars.  It only took five months from funding to our first batch – this depite the fact that we decided to save money and time by skipping the permitting process, renting chain saws and clearing the back of the property ourselves.  (Another reason Kevin was located on a different floor than the firm’s Environmental Group when he was at Schwabe.)

Ignorance of the law works if you don't get caught.....

Ignorance of the law works if you don’t get caught…..

 I gave three free brewery tours every weekend for more than nine  straight months and on most weekends after that for 2.5 years.  I filled the tasting room with beer memorabilia from defunct eastern US breweries to complement the brewing history speech I gave at the beginning of every tour.

Thanks to an idiosyncratic law, we were allowed to sell beer in the new brewery’s taproom though still not sell it on the premises for money, but at least the sales paid for the free beer we gave away on the tours!   

A tour of the young brewery ended in the taproom with free beer

A tour of the young brewery ended in the taproom with free beer

The bottling was "painfully slow."

The bottling was “painfully slow.”

The bottling line was painfully slow and completely manual except for the bottle/filler/capper and labeling machine. Shelf life was pretty good. 

After the 1996 Initial Public Offering, their brewing facilities were pretty close to the then state of the art.

State of the Art Brewing

State of the Art Brewing

The demand soared – by their first anniversary party, they were brewing as fast as they could but completely sold out by the week of the party so they had to “beg” one of their retailers to sell a keg back so they had their own beer for the staff celebration.

“In 1997-98, we purchased two local competitors within a few weeks of each other – Wild Goose and Brimstone breweries and merged them into ours.  We brewed their brands after that which was pretty much the high-water mark for the company.”

Brewhouse Controls

Brewhouse Controls

Kevin and his partner, Steve Nordahl and two other early FBC staff went on to found their own breweries. Nordahl is now the owner/brewer of Lone Peak Brewery and Pub in Big Sky, Montana. The drummer in the picture went on to found a brewpub called Blue Moon in Savannah, Georgia.

The guy playing the guitar in the photo below (Matt Swihart) moved to Oregon and worked at Full Sail and then Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River. Based on their anniversary party dilemma, he wrote and performed a song named, “The Brewery That Had No Beer.”                                                                      

Repurposed dairy tanks in the back - used to age their lagers

Repurposed dairy tanks in the back – used to age their lagers

           

Matt __ sings, "The Brewery That Ran Out of Beer"

Matt Swihart sings, “The Brewery That Had No Beer”

 

 

 

 

 

The intense effort that went into making a successful brewery took its toll, and Brannon, as the Brewery’s legal counsel, found himself doing more desk work than he wanted so he and has partners sold the brewery to Snyder International in 1999.  By then, it had grown into one of the mid-Atlantic region’s largest independent craft breweries.

Frederick Brewery Annual Meeting

Frederick Brewery Annual Meeting

Consistent with his desire to follow a respectable and traditional Lawyer/MBA path, he and his wife decided to move to the Bahamas, where they leased a house on the beach and became scuba diving instructors in an eco-resort….

Business was great during the tech boom, with many wealthy tourists moving or vacationing in paradise, but this traffic dried up – immediately when the boom turned bust in 2000 – as most of us remember from our 401(k) balances.  They moved back to Oregon and Kevin returned to the same desk at Preston Gates until he moved to the Schwabe firm in 2004 followed by his own practice at Brannon Law PC.

The Second Brannon Brewery – This Time in Beaverton

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The Brannons’ Kitchen was Busy at the Pre-opening Event

After several years of planning, his pre-opening event was in early October 2014, when he had three of his own beers on tap – that has now grown to nine.  Stay tuned for Part II on Kevin Brannon’s newest venture Brannons’ Pub and Brewery including an interesting lunch with five tax lawyers!!!

You can't miss with the Brannon Beer Sampler...
You can’t miss with the Brannon Beer Sampler…

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Richmond Bar – Have a Cocktail (or a Beer) at this New Bar

The Richmond - It's cocktails make a splash on the Portland bar scene in 2014

The Richmond – Its cocktails make a splash on the Portland bar scene in 2014

Ten good draft beers to supplement the cocktail menu

Ten good draft beers to supplement the cocktail menu

Those who prefer cocktails, but  want some good draft beers as well, should check out the Richmond Bar – only about a year old and replacing the Matchbox Lounge – oft praised in the past for its great $5 burgers and good beer. It joins the list of plentiful watering holes on SE Division.

The Oregonian includes the Richmond in its listing of “Portland’s 10 Best New Bars,” and describes it as, “….. (a)surprisingly handsome and cozy spot with a British-meets-Pacific Northwest vibe decorated with tufted leather booths, imported wall paper and large wooden tables.”

West Coast Dave Hicks - A Beerchaser Regular who quotes the Sage of Baltimore

West Coast Dave Hicks – A Beerchaser Regular who quotes the Sage of Baltimore

Nate Tilden (the Portland restaurateur and “cutting edge” guy who takes meat very seriously) (also owner of Clyde Commons and Olympic Provisions – entered another of his partnerships with Portlander, Marty Schwartz.

I was pleased that Beerchaser Regular, “West Coast” (although his sales territory goes east to Chicago) Dave Hicks, was in town from his San Francisco environs to raise a mug and convey pearls of wisdom.

Hicks has been to prior Beerchaser watering holes including Crackerjacks, the Horse Brass Pub and Belmont Station.  His Princeton University under-graduate education is evident as he was quick to quote American journalist and satirist, H.L. Menken while drinking an outstanding Fort George Spruce Budd Ale – one of nine beers and one cider on tap.

dd

H. L. Mencken – Skeptical about economists and politicians but not beer

“24 hours in a day – 24 beers in a case –  Coincidence.  I think not.”   

Before we tried the menu and imbibed in one of the cocktails, I took Dave’s suggestion – a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne – a reddish-brown ale from the West-Flanders region of Belgium.  And although he is not fluent in Dutch, he taught me the correct pronunciation to order it.

Duchesse De Bourgogne - easier to drink than pronounce....

Duchesse De Bourgogne – easier to drink than pronounce….

The Richmond is cozy and low-key.  You order your drinks and food at the bar and even during Happy Hour, it had a nice vibe.   We talked to Kelly, the bartender, who has worked there for just a few months and moved from Clyde Commons – which has also supplied chefs.

The bar has a rotating selection of “hand pies” and Dave enjoyed the ham pie, which the  Portland Tribune Beef and Brew column described as, “….juicy Olympic Provisions sweetheart ham, smoked cheddar and – instead of predictable root vegetables – roasted cauliflower.”   I enthusiastically devoured the wild boar and sweet corn pie.  The most recent choices for pies on their website are a roasted venison and a vegetable option. 

The robust menu shows mainly pub food with an Old English theme – and you know the OP meat is going to be superb.  The offerings include mac & cheese, a number of burgers and sandwiches, salads and some esoteric snacks such as Pickled Eggs and Anchovies, Pork and Pistachio Pate, and Roast Beef and Turnips.  Take a dollar off any item during their Happy Hour from 4:00 to 6:00 every day and all day on Sunday.

Kelly - a skilled mixologist

Kelly – a skilled mixologist

We were pleasantly surprised based on our limited sampling of their twelve original cocktails, and ours deserved the reputation the Richmond has garnered.

I had the Strong Water ($10) – stirred with rye, cardamaro, averna, dry vermouth and bitters – ingredients departing from what you would expect Thebeerchaser to be accustomed to – barley, malt, hops and yeast.

Hicks had a Paloma ($8) – tequila, grapefruit shrub, lime and jalapeno simple.  I did not have the courage to ask what was the difference between plain grapefruit and “grapefruit shrub.”

The Paloma and Strong Water - what in the heck is cardamaro??

The Strong Water and the Paloma – what in the heck is cardamaro??

A return trip would probably mean trying the Park Life, the Incider or the Mo Betta or the June Bug although that would still only cover one-half of their mixed drink lineup.

Skilled mixologists..

Skilled mixologists..

The Richmond has its own nice character, classy décor, the bartenders were skilled and friendly and as Willamette Week concluded in its review, “The cozy, tasteful little bar does absolutely nothing wrong – except perhaps doing nothing wrong.”

 

Their website is pretty basic, but has their drink and food menu and information on their Happy Hour.  However, if you’re searching for “The Richmond Bar,” be specific and expand your search terms or you may end up reading about a bunch of lawyers in the oldest  bar association in Virginia (founded in 1856).

And who can impugn the motives of those whose goal is “to promote legal science and the administration of justice…..while meeting the challenges of our rapidly changing profession.”  

Bartender Kelly and Thebeerchaser with the logo

Bartender Kelly and Thebeerchaser with the logo

 

Since West Coast Dave Hicks is also a lawyer, he would drink to that mission!

And by the way, if you are still wondering, cardamaro is an Italian herbal wine-based liqueur flavored with a relative of the artichoke and blessed thistle among other herbs and spices.

And grapefruit shrub is a sweet-tart infusion of vinegar and fruit.

A nice ambiance to complement good food and beverage options

A nice ambiance which complements the good food and beverage options

 

The Richmond Bar     3203 SE Division

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 ———–

(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)

Church – Eat, Drink (Pray) – Repent!

Lawyer John Mansfield at the somewhat plain entrance to Church

Lawyer John Mansfield at the somewhat plain entrance to Church

Church is a relatively new bar on 26th and NE Sandy.  Opened in 2013, it has an intriguing interior to mitigate the nondescript exterior and lack of a really viable patio.  Willamette Week, in its review accurately states, “Though it is a neighborhood bar in no neighborhood at all, it’ll likely gather a congregation,” – affirmed on both of our visits – an energetic crowd to complement the friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Mansfield in a margarita toast to the 95 Theses

Mansfield in a margarita toast to the 95 Theses

I was joined by one of Thebeerchaser regulars, Portland intellectual property lawyer, John MansfieldJohn thought he could cause a stir and gain some publicity by emulating his hero, 16th century theologian, Martin Luther, and tacking 95 patents to the door of Church to commemorate Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses at the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg in 1517.

Martin_Luther

Martin Luther

Indeed, besides the physical resemblance one can glean from these pictures, Mansfield and Luther share some other traits.  Luther translated the Bible to the vernacular and Mansfield converts the language of patents and IP procedures into coherent terms that his clients can understand.

The name provides a marketing challenge, of sorts....

The name provides a marketing challenge, of sorts….

A Google search for Church yields 221 million possible hits and for “Church Bar,” a total of 490 million – an interesting fact in itself, but it raises the same question I asked the owner of the recently Beerchaser-reviewed (April 2013 post) bar “Beer.”  How do you market your establishment on-line and help people find it given the generic moniker?

Although there are also bars named “Church” in Webster England, Lakewood Ohio, Portland Maine and Atlanta, our research found that a new trend is also to have Sunday church services in a bar – possibly an answer to the statistical question above.  It’s the case in both Forth Worth and Abilene, Texas.  (Of course, if Rick Perry is your governor, it would motivate one to both drink and pray without ceasing…)

I like answer the Abilene pastor gave to the following question: Will alcohol be served at Bar Church?      

Is it kosher to drink in Church???

Is it kosher to drink in Church???  Ask Sam, the bartender.

“Jesus seemed more interested in connecting with people than he was interested in debating questions like this.  We like Jesus’ approach.  The fact is that we meet in a bar, and some people are probably going to want to order a drink.”

One of the other pastors stated, “If Jesus came in the door, he’d probably laugh.”

———-

Distinguishing Characteristics

The impressive interior

The impressive interior

The Décor – The dark recycled wood panels on the wall have inlays shaped like steeples and catch the light from very large windows at the front of the bar.  Bottles and wood

Medieval trappings integrated into the décor enhance the impact as does one of the other unique  items – a confessional booth which is actually a slick photo booth (see below).       

Bartender, forgive me, for I have sinned. "It has been five minutes since my last Bloody Mary...."

Bartender, forgive me, for I have sinned. “It has been five minutes since my last Bloody Mary….”

Inside the confessional is a high-quality digital camera, which will take about 8 photos of the “penitents” and through a custom-made software program transmit them to social media for posting – pretty slick although not medieval and raising issues regarding the sanctity or confidentiality of this bar sacrament (to be resolved over cocktails…) 

P1010923

Catharsis in the booth….

The Food – The menu at Church is impressive with enough Southern standards to make one feel like he’s at a Baptist convention.  Although we did not eat, we met Javier, the chef, and he is proud of the selection and the quality and he was knowledgeable about his craft.

For example, hush puppies, glazed pork belly and corn bread, biscuits and gravy, grits and even their tofu dish has black-eyed peas.  They reportedly have a great burger and their ribs are only $5 during Happy Hour.

Also a selection of oysters and as stated in the Portland Tribune review in June 2013, “A sign over the bar reads, “Eat. Drink. Repent.” It’s a little unsettling, especially when you’re talking about shellfish — but we remained unrepentant.”

Unsettling - when eating oysters.....!

Unsettling – when eating oysters…..!

Mansfield with Brian Block, one of the owners and the traditional Beerchaser logo.

Mansfield with Brian Block, one of the owners and the traditional Beerchaser logo.

The Cocktails It’s an eclectic and creative cocktail menu which adds to a nice selection of nine wines and eight beers, although we were somewhat surprised,  that there were only two beers and a rotating cider on tap. (We had the Pfriem Blond IPA from the Hood River brewery – their rotating micro, which was very good.) John also had an excellent margarita.

An ambitious project would be to work one’s way through the ten interesting cocktails in addition to a “rotating punch.”  Most of the drinks are consistent with the religious theme:  For example, “The Great Fire” is tequila, lime, grapefruit, sugar, dill and cayenne, while “Sunday Morning” is buffalo trace, Drambuie, ginger syrup, lemon, Angostura and bubbles?.  “Death from Above” and “Old World Prayer” were also worthy of a future indulgence.

P1010924Some of the reviews questioned the synergy of the intriguing ingredients.  And the Portland Mercury in its review opined, “As if to make a position statement, the bar offers a Pickleback: a shot of pickle brine that washes away a shot of bad whiskey—an efficient tool for those only interested in one aspect of their drinking. It lives at the end of the cocktail menu, a white flag of capitulation after all that trying.”

The two visits to Church were both good experiences and the bar’s character and décor are worth seeing.  Since Mansfield was noted for the tribute to his historical hero above, it is fitting to quote one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite intellectuals  – Lord G.K. Chesterton, a British theologian, essayist, philosopher, newspaper columnist and novelist, who lived from 1874 to 1936 in London.  He was known for his love of food and drink and sometimes said grace before lighting a cigar.  He once stated:

Brilliant, prolific and humorous theologian, philosopher and author, Lord Chesterton

Brilliant, prolific and humorous theologian, philosopher and author, Lord Chesterton

“No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness – or as good as drink.”

Based on two more quotes, I think he would enjoy the crowd and the theme of Church:

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”

Stop in at Church (Happy Hour from 4 to 7 and midnight to 2 A.M. every day with $2-$4 drafts and $3 well drinks) and have a chicken gizzard salad washed down with an “Old World Prayer”cocktail (Monopolowa vodka, green chartreuse, pear juice, lemon, green tea syrup and juniper) and then receive absolution in the confessional.

John Mansfield in lawyer mode....

John Mansfield in lawyer mode….

Church                    2600 NE Sandy