Friday, July 13, 2007

McMenamins of Portland, Oregon

"In June 1987, McMenimans debuted its Mission Theater and Pub, an establishment that preached the merits of watching movies and drinking beer."

You had me at 'theater and pub.'

I arrived in Portland last night and was immediately taken on a whirlwind tour of Portland nightlife by my couchsurfing host, Sarah. We first hit a local art gallery with a new show opening, then to the Lucky Labrador beer hall, and finally to the Mission Theater and Pub.

I love movies. And I love beer. But both in the same building!? Elation isn't quite strong enough of a word in this case.

The Mission Theater and Pub was originally a mission, believe it or not. Swedish immigrants built the place in 1912, only to abandon it to a dockworker's union in 1954, who in turn abandoned the place in 1982. For a year in the mid 80's it was the performace space of a local acting troupe, and finally arrived at its current incarnation in 1987, thanks to the two geniuses that are Mike and Brian McMenamin.

In the 70's, The Brothers McMenamin recognized a need for a reinvention of the pub. They wanted a lighter, more fun atmosphere, away from the dark and male dominated taverns of the era. They started taking vacant spaces in the Portland area - old barley mills, theaters, even a lighthouse - and spruced them up to be more "fun and family-friendly."

Today they have renovated 54 ("and counting...") spaces in the Pacific Northwest, taking old derelict buildings and blending them with the region's fine tradition of microbreweries to form new community hotspots. These are buildings that would still stand abandoned today, or worse, would have been torn down. Instead they enjoy a new life while retaining their history.

"Along the way, we came to understand the power of art, live music and history to draw people of all backgrounds together under one roof, reinforcing a sense of community."

The Mission Theater and Pub near Sarah's apartment plays second run movies and offers a ten dollar movie, beer and burger deal on Wednesday nights. We missed "Blades of Glory" last night but managed to catch the live music. Red Jacket Mine, an alternative rock band, played first. Small Sails, an indie ambient pop band, played second. We'd both had long days and cut out during the third band's set before I could catch its name.

And then I saw it.

Is this heaven?

No, it's just Portland.


Anonymous said...

Scott-I'd offer my brother's couch to you in Portland, but I'm guessing you're not staying there much longer. Glad you're still having fun, but I'm a little disappointed that I haven't seen your special pose in any of the pictures. I do understand the pose works better with a group though.


Dad said...

Hmmm. how did we miss McMenamin's back in '02? Oh, well, we did hit the Lucky Labrador, and as you can imagine, Mom was in her element at the social gathering of Portland dogs out on the loading dock, not to mention all the Labrador retriever photos inside. Gld you got to see the place.
Portland's a good city - some other good restaurants and microbreweries, the Rose Garden, Powell's Bookstore, and good wineries not far from the downtown. Also close to ocean, Mr. Hood and Columbia River.
And Oregon is the only other state in the union, besides our beloved NJ, to be stupid enough to ban self-service gas stations.

Scotticus said...

I'll have to do the special pose for you before the trip is over, Mandy. Of course, it also works better with the hat!

48statebus said...

You definitely didn't miss anything by not seeing Blades of Glory, but Arrested Development is one of the best shows ever(only behind Scrubs).

Kirsten said...

I had Chris read this entry - he loves beer and Arrested Development, (he got me hooked on the show) as well as Portland's proximity to skiing at Mt. Hood.

the chef said...

Excuse me for saying Mr. Dad but "Full Service Gas Stations" equal jobs... and LOTS of them.

What ever happened to the good old days where they'd top off your windshield washer fluid and check your oil??

Pardon me for being a romantic.