By Pete Dunlop
For the Oregon Beer Growler
There will be another "new" brewery in Portland early next year. Fat Head’s Brewery, launched in 2014, is slated to close in January. Look for it to be replaced sometime in the first quarter of 2018 by Von Ebert Brewing, which will be operated by current Fat Head’s franchisee, Tom Cook.
News of Fat Head’s closure initially caused a stir in beer circles and on social media. A lot of fans wondered why the apparently successful brewpub would close. In fact, the closure has nothing at all to do with the wellbeing of the business here.
What's actually at work is that corporate Fat Head’s, based in Ohio, has a lot going on in its home market. Rather than continue to focus on the remote Portland outpost, the company and Cook mutually decided to end the franchise arrangement.
“We were unable to agree on a vision for the future,” said Fat Head’s founder Glenn Benigni, “As a result, we’ve mutually decided to close the Fat Head’s location in Portland, pouring our last beer in early 2018. We’d like to say thanks to the beautiful city of Portland and all of the customers who joined us there over the years. It has been a pleasure serving you.”
Cook offered similar thoughts.
“I know it sounds like spin," he said via email. "But this is exactly what happened. They wanted to focus their energies on the Midwest, where they have a lot going on with a new production brewery and the new Canton brewpub. I wanted to focus on Portland. We decided it's probably best for them to pursue their plans in the Midwest and for me to do my own thing out there."
He admits it wasn't an easy decision. The franchise has been highly successful here. Indeed, the success of Fat Head’s surprised more than a few in the beer geek crowd. Many thought an out-of-state chain would quickly collapse in beer-wacky Beervana. It didn't happen.
"I think we succeeded here because we built a talented team and gave it the right tools," wrote Cook, who added current employees will have the opportunity to continue on. "There's no way I would be doing what I'm doing with Von Ebert if my team here wasn’t staying and fully behind me. This wasn’t an easy decision, but I think it's the right decision for everyone."
Von Ebert, when it opens, will specialize in hoppy brews from head brewer, Eric Van Tassel. Sean Burke, formerly of The Commons, is also part of the Von Ebert Brewing team. Burke's talent for making uniquely interesting beers is well known. Cook expects the team to release 100 or so unique beers a year, including American, German, Belgian and barrel-aged varieties.
"Von Ebert Brewing is a new concept, where Northwest family traditions meet innovative ideas in craft brewing,” said Cook in a press release. "We’re excited to unveil a completely new experience for customers, blending our brewing expertise with the adventurous flavors Portland has come to love."
The pub will feature what he refers to as "elevated American pub food." That includes items like traditional German pretzels with beer cheese, stone oven-baked pizzas, cheeseburgers stacked high with locally sourced meats, decadent sandwiches and smoked wings.
"True to our character, our menu will combine classic pub fares with the kind of top-tier quality local ingredients you can only find in Portland," Cook said.
Many in and around the craft beer industry are aware that Cook had quietly planned to open a brewpub in the vacated RingSide Grill space adjacent to Glendoveer Golf Course in Northeast Portland. Evidently, those plans will be more or less on hold until he clears some regulatory hurdles.
"There's more to come on this," he wrote. "I don’t want to comment or give a timeline until I finish with the City of Portland. I would hate to promise something and then learn we can’t do it."
Many wonder about the Von Ebert name and logo. It’s obviously a strong departure from Fat Heads and has no apparent connection to Portland. What’s it all about?
"My great grandmother came to the United States from Germany and her last name was Ebert," Cook wrote. "She gave up quite a bit in Germany to bring my family here, so I wanted to pay some respect to my immigrant family. ‘Eber’ in German means boar, thus the boar in the logo."
Von Ebert Brewing will open sometime in early 2018. Watch for updates on social media or check the company website at vonebertbrewing.com.
By Holly Amlin and Pete Dunlop
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Already deep in the Oregon beer weeds with Bailey’s Taproom, The Upper Lip and Brewed Oregon, Geoff Phillips wasn’t quite satisfied. He had recurring visions of a taproom where he could take his young family to enjoy good beer in a pleasant atmosphere.
The result of his thinking is Level Beer, which opened over the summer in the space formerly occupied by produce outlet The Barn in Northeast Portland. Level is situated on roughly 2 acres and features a brewery, taproom, beer garden, food carts, hop yard, gaming and more.
“My original vision was a family-oriented taproom outside the downtown core,” Phillips said. “As I searched for a spot, I was looking at expensive retail space. That led me to the brewery idea because industry property is a lot less expensive. Then I stumbled on this place.”
Owners of The Barn have been looking for a buyer for several years. The property, fairly atypical for a brewery in this area because of its size, appealed to Phillips due to its potential to host a variety of events and activities.
“When I found this place, I was sold on its utility,” Phillips said. “I figured, OK, I can do a brewery. I know something about beer, but I don’t brew and I don’t have any interest in brewing. So I put out feelers that I was looking for a brewer or brewers.”
Soon enough, Jason Barbee entered the picture. Barbee worked at Deschutes’ Portland brewery for five years before moving to Ex Novo Brewing Co. in 2014. There he developed a line of respected beers during the next two years.
“Leaving Ex Novo was tough in some ways,” Barbee says. “I had built something I was proud of and had good momentum. But my ultimate goal had always been to have my own place. Getting to know Geoff, this seemed like an ideal opportunity.”
Barbee and Phillips found a third partner in Shane Watterson, who Barbee had worked with early on at Deschutes. After leaving Deschutes, Watterson spent six years at Laurelwood Brewery, eventually reaching the role of head brewer there.
“Jason and I stayed in touch after Deschutes,” Watterson said. “We had the same ultimate goal and were working on a plan. It’s fair to say the three of us are on the same page in terms of what we think a brewery should be. Level Beer seemed like a good fit for me.”
The family-friendly aspect of Level Beer means they’ll focus on brewing lower-ABV beers. They’d like visitors to feel comfortable enjoying a few pints and food with their kids in a laidback setting.
“Honestly, the lighter stuff is what we like to drink,” Watterson said. “We all have young kids and we appreciate less alcohol. That doesn’t mean we won’t make barleywines and double IPAs. But most of our beers will be on the lighter side in terms of ABV.”
One of their standards is Let’s Play!, a dry-hopped pilsner. They’re still tinkering with the hops, but the beer already has a following. Another standard will be Ready Player One, a dry-hopped saison. Both beers clock in at about 5% ABV.
“Of course, we’ll always have an IPA on, probably two,” Barbee added. “We’ll take a traditional approach, but also do some hazy stuff to please those who search for that. We’ll definitely have some heavier beers and barrel stuff, particularly during the cooler months.”
One of Level’s cool factors is its beer garden, formerly a greenhouse. Seating inside the brewery building is dark and sparse, so the expansive beer garden is a necessary and highly desirable feature.
“The beer garden is unique and we intend to use it year-round,” Phillips said. “We’re in the process of getting overhead gas heaters installed, looking ahead to winter. We’ll close off the sides and make it a comfy space. It was one of the big selling points.”
Possessing a 20-barrel brewery and some fairly large fermenters, Level will have the ability to crank out some volume once the system is fully up to speed. They also have a 2.5-barrel pilot system for experimental and small-batch brews.
“The great thing about the pilot system is we can make small-batch stuff that doesn’t have mass appeal,” Barbee said. “You’re always going to have some beers that don’t move very fast, like a mild. We can make small batches of beers like that and know they won’t be around forever.”
While most startup breweries self-distribute early on to get the best return on what they sell outside their taproom or pub, Level decided to go another route. They chose to partner with Running Man, a boutique Portland-based distributor that represents a handful of craft brands. They have their reasons.
“We didn’t want to self-distribute,” Phillips said. “Shane and Jason want to brew. I want to run these businesses. We don’t want to hit the streets. We would have had to buy trucks, hire salespeople, develop logistics. We didn’t want to go there. Running Man will be our salesperson.”
Running Man may be a good fit. Level Beer isn’t looking to get into big-box grocers. They’re selling draft and packaged product to beer bars and bottle shops and expect to get cans and bottles into New Seasons and other premium stores.
Level Beer branding elements were designed by Hood River-based Jeremy Backer. Backer has several years of experience in branding, packaging and user interface design working with Ex Novo, Final Draft Taphouse, Fortside Brewing Company and others.
An ‘80s video game theme is apparent in the stylistic elements, as well as the bright color scheme. Some design elements can be seen in the taproom, such as the large “LEVEL” display above the taps. But the branding will be most apparent on packaged product.
“We realize there’s a contradictory aspect to the branding,” Phillips said. “The ‘80s theme doesn’t really fit with The Barn. The logo is more for our packaged stuff, less for the pub. We’re super stoked with the branding. And we have a barn. We’ll make it work.”
Phillips didn’t do a formal market analysis. But the area around the brewery, a mix of industrial and residential, is desperately underserved and in dire need of good beer.
“There’s no brewery within 7 miles in any direction,” he says, “and very little here in terms of food and beverage. Besides people living nearby, we hope this will be a destination for people passing by on I-84 or flying in and out of PDX.”
Indeed, the steady flow of PDX traffic in the skies above Level Beer makes rooftop advertising a viable option.
“We’re considering it,” said Phillips. “That might be fun.”
5211 NE 148th Ave., Portland
By Holly Amlin
For the Oregon Beer Growler
After opening their brewery at Southeast 10th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard last fall, the idea of adding a second tap house wasn’t even a blip on the horizon for Scout Beer owners Joe St. Martin and Sean Oeding.
When an opportunity presented itself, though, they decided to take over an old insurance agency at the corner of Southeast 50th Avenue and Division Street. The new venture, to be called The Lot at Scout Tap House, will preserve part of the existing neighborhood.
“The new location includes space for food cart vendors and is focused on collaborative partnerships,” St. Martin said. “The ability to sell beer and provide a home to five vendors allows us to grow, but it also sets up a long-term home for at least five other businesses.”
That area of Southeast Division Street has changed dramatically during the last couple years. Empty lots that included food carts, businesses and homes have been scooped up by developers who put multi-story apartments in their place.
One of the few buildings left standing was part residence, part insurance office. When it came up for sale, St. Martin and Oeding saw the potential right away. They quickly developed plans for The Lot. Improvements to the 80-year-old structure started in June and will be complete soon.
Not unlike their brewery location, the interior of the tap house will include a bar, seating and a gateway garage door to an outdoor patio. They’re even planning ahead for the cool nights to come, adding a fire pit space to complement the outdoorsy, camping theme.
“Ultimately, it comes down to creating a welcoming space,” St. Martin explained. “We know how important it is to be able to take your family out to enjoy a quality meal and a beer in a good atmosphere at a reasonable price. That’s the big idea with The Lot.”
Scout started brewing its own beer on a 5-barrel system in May of this year. Not having had the ability to produce a lot of their own product in the past, the founders shared their taps with other breweries in town. That’s changing.
“The new tap house will be different,” says St. Martin, “We envision The Lot to be a satellite brewpub that will focus almost exclusively on Scout beers, including new recipes that will complement the styles of food being offered.”
They’ve been consistent at making creative, food-centric beers from the beginning. Two of their most popular brews are Anaphylactic, a peanut butter porter, and Porridge, an oatmeal pale featuring cinnamon, raisins and vanilla.
“I once owned a small bakery and have a passion for cooking,” St. Martin explains of the beer style origins. “I enjoy the science of things like baking and brewing, but love the ability to manipulate the details into flavors people might not be expecting in a beer.”
St. Martin and Oeding arrived in Portland from the Bay Area in 2014. They launched their business selling beer through a food cart in the established Tidbit pod off Southeast 28th Place and Division Street. Even though they’ve only lived in Portland for a few years, they understand the importance of building community and creating good relationships with those around them.
1516 SE 10th Ave., Portland
Scout Beer Garden
2880 SE Division St., Portland
By Holly Amlin and Pete Dunlop
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The little beasts have been unleashed. In this case, little beasts are the tiny critters that do the arduous work of fermenting Charles Porter’s Old World, barrel-aged specialty beers.
Porter, co-founder of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales and creative force behind many medal-winning beers before departing two years ago, recently launched Little Beast Brewing in Beaverton. The beers, like those at Logsdon, will feature mixed-culture fermentations as well as Oregon produce and plants.
“I suppose I always knew I would do my own thing,” said Porter, who started his brewing career in Indiana before moving to Oregon to work at Deschutes, Full Sail and, eventually, Logsdon in 2009. “Little Beast was on the drawing board before I left Logsdon. I knew that was my future.”
The initial Little Beast beers have hit select beer bars and shelves in premium grocery stores around the Portland area. Bes and Fera are examples of the types of beers Porter will be creating as Little Beast evolves.
“Bes and Fera are both entry level beers,” he said. “Bes is a sour beer with training wheels. Fera is super dry. Neither is particularly tart. Fera is so dry, that the hops come through a little. Some IPA fans will like it. But we don’t intend to cater to the IPA crowd. That’s a numbers game we really don’t care to tap.”
Planning Little Beast took some twists and turns. Leery of making the substantial investment required to build his own brewery, Porter initially planned to buy wort from various sources and do fermentation and packaging in a then-to-be determined location.
“The reality is, we struggled to find a space,” he said. “We didn’t want to pay retail price for square footage that would be used mostly for production. Finding a space probably would have been easier had it not been for recreational marijuana, which was competing for spaces we were interested in.”
Things took a fortunate turn when Porter stumbled on an available turnkey brewery next to The Westgate Bourbon Bar & Taphouse in Beaverton. The equipment had previously been part of Brannon’s Pub & Brewery, which closed its doors in 2015.
“It was a fortuitous find,” Porter said. “Coming across a turnkey arrangement in our situation was a brewer’s wet dream. It solved a lot of challenges and allowed us to get started without making a huge upfront investment.”
The Westgate location isn’t forever. Porter hopes to find a permanent location in Portland, a place where he can have a taproom and do some production. Even now, the tiny brewing space behind the Westgate is crowded with barrels and brewing equipment.
“We’ll stay here upwards of two years,” he said. “We’re looking for storage space now because this place is jammed. But we’re also looking for a taproom and production space. We may end up with separate production and retail spaces — not necessarily a bad thing.”
The arrangement with Westgate was a meeting of shared values. When Brannon’s folded, Dave Heinsch, who also operates The Fireside Grill in Beaverton, signed a lease for all of what had been Brannon’s. He wasn’t sure what to do with the attached brewery, but he wanted the location.
“To be honest, I wasn’t that interested in the brewery,” Heinsch said. “I was after the space. I figured we’d stash the brewery, let people forget about it while I shopped around for the right brewer. I thought that might take some time.”
Heinsch, whose vision for the Westgate was a destination for high-quality food and drinks, was pleased to discover Porter was looking for a brewery.
“I knew of Charles from his work at Logsdon,” Heinsch said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of this venture, even if it’s just a stepping stone to something bigger. The guy makes great beer. Plus, having him here takes the brewery off my hands for a year or two while I focus on Westgate. It’s definitely a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Porter is subleasing the brewery space at The Westgate, operating as a separate business. So he’s not partnering with Heinsch. But Porter does have a partner in the Little Beast venture. That would be his wife, Brenda Crow.
Crow has a lengthy background in sales, marketing and branding connected to food. She was national sales manager at Olympia Provisions and currently manages sales of several artisan cheeses in the Northwest.
“Brenda is a spreadsheet queen and a great communicator,” said Porter. “Her strong food background and extensive contact list is helping us get our beers into restaurants, which is great for us. She also played a key role in our brand development process.”
When it came to branding, Crow and Porter hired Andy Morris of Chandelarrow Design Co., a Portland-based studio, after vetting several local artists. Morris has a background in food-and-drink packaging, having done work for Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Widmer Brothers Brewing and The Woodsman Tavern, among others.
Morris’ style appealed to them, though it did take several rounds of logo concepts to get what they wanted. The end result is a modern look that gives nod to the sophistication of Old World-style beers, mixing subtle blackletter with strong visual elements.
“We were initially worried that the logo might come across as too cartoonish,” Crow said. “Andy’s response was that it would work well embossed on a label. He was right. The logo looks amazing when embossed on the label.”
The result is an image that’s bold enough to be recognized from across a room, while at the same time containing enough intricate detail to provide a fairly complete story of what the brand is all about — the sort of thing consumers have come to expect from premium beers.
Goodies far beyond the description of the beer occupy the back side of the bottle. Look for the bottled-on-date coding, batch information, when to drink and suggested glassware (if that isn’t obvious from the goblet in the lion’s mouth in the logo). It’s elements like these that demonstrate Porter’s dedication.
“I felt strongly about including bottled-on dates,” Porter said. “Not enough breweries are doing that, in my opinion. The drink-by dates will vary by beer. Through the labeling, I can go back and know exactly what I was doing with each of these beers. I’m tracking everything.”
As a final, personal touch, Porter added his signature to the label. In a market where there is increasing competition among premium brands for the hearts, minds and dollars of consumers, Little Beast offers a quality product in a finely tuned package. This will likely turn out well.
When audiences first heard the words “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” uttered on the big screen in 1975, the summer blockbuster was born. The line was delivered by actor Roy Scheider after he had just laid eyes on cinema’s most notorious great white shark. But in a way, it also announced the future movie boom during June, July and August — months where ticket sales traditionally lagged. But when “Jaws” captivated the country and made a record profit, studio directors and theater owners alike realized their bigger boat would come in the form of budget-busting action films that would draw a ravenous crowd.
The season of peak heat has since become inextricably linked with high intensity at the box office. We duck into theaters that might as well double as a darkened refrigerator for a few hours’ relief. Lucky for us, a growing number of movie houses now sell beer to enhance our experience. Moreover, many of the independent theaters are living history with a backstory that might rival the plots of tired sequels that appear on their screens.
The following guide offers information about all of that and more to help you navigate your way through the array of cinema pubs this summer, whether you’re in the mood for one of those traditional blockbusters or need a night out with a low-budget, sci-fi horror flick from the 1950s — we’ve got you covered. And, best of all, every listing offers local beer.
7818 SE Stark St., Portland, 503-252-0500, academytheaterpdx.com
Academy Theater originally opened in 1948 and became a popular Montavilla destination until its closure in the 1970s. The years were not kind to the building and it fell into disrepair. Fortunately, in 2006 a full renovation was completed, restoring the once-popular theater with a vibrant marquee to its original charm.
Catch a second-run, classic or independent flick in one of the building’s three theaters. You can find popular releases that have just been bumped from most major movie chains’ lineups along with cult classics like “Clueless” and “The Big Lebowski” and even documentaries. Need a break from the kids? Academy has you covered with a babysitting service for the length of the movie that costs $9.50, per child, for kids ages 2-8.
Unlike other theater pubs, Academy has one of the most eclectic food offerings in Portland through their partnerships with neighborhood restaurants. Enjoy a slice from Flying Pie Pizzeria, cookies from Bipartisan Cafe or even sushi from Minamoto Restaurant. The beer selection also shines at Academy with 10 taps featuring eight beers and two ciders for $5. When available, get a pour of Montavilla Bipartisan Porter — the neighborhood brewery.
Pro Tip: Two for Tuesday – Enjoy a movie with a friend on Tuesday with the buy-one-get-one free ticket offer. KERRY FINSAND
616 NW 21st Ave., Portland, 503-223-4515, cinema21.com
A fixture of Northwest 21st Avenue since 1926 and a treasured landmark for Portland’s film industry — “Drugstore Cowboy” and “Wild” both had their Oregon premieres here — Cinema 21 joined the ranks of the city’s suds-serving pubs relatively recently. Tom Ranieri, who has run the business since 1980, began a major remodel three years ago — adding two small screening rooms for intimate viewings, new chairs in the 500-seat auditorium and, most importantly, beer sales as part of expanded concessions.
From the street, the theater appears unchanged. The marquee still features a reliable mix of international and independent films, ambitious Hollywood fare and buzzy documentaries, alongside quirky events like “Grease” sing-alongs and interactive screenings of the unintentionally hilarious cult romance “The Room.”
Cinema 21 offers seven taps, including one cider, one seasonal rotator and “Cinema 21 Lager.” Beers are served in a 16-ounce clear plastic cup with lid. They run $5.50 except for the lager, which is $3.75. (“Full disclosure,” said the guy behind the counter when asked who makes the lager, “It’s just Rolling Rock.”) A slice from Cinema 21 neighbor Escape From New York Pizza is a nearly mandatory accompaniment.
Pro tip: Don’t miss the odd little Beatles-themed diorama under the counter. BEN WATERHOUSE
The CineMagic Theater
2023 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, 503-231-7919, thecinemagictheater.com
Originally opened in 1914 as Palm Theatre and changing names numerous times, CineMagic has been in its current form since 1991. This small, single-screen theater primarily plays first-run movies. The no-frills space doesn’t have much room in the lobby, so no need to linger outside the auditorium. The 1950s-era bathrooms appear to be the smallest in town, but during our recent visit there weren’t any lines. Although food selection is limited (popcorn and candy), grab a slice at BlackBird Pizza across the street and bring it back to your seat.
CineMagic’s 10 taps offer eight beers and two ciders. The thoughtful tap list rivals some of Portland’s solid craft beer-oriented bars with selections from the likes of pFriem Family Brewers, The Commons and Sunriver Brewing Company. Sixteen-ouncers come in plastic cups and cost $4-6. Occasionally, beer buyer Nick Kuechler is able to snag unique brews like Great Divide Brewing Company’s Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti, which will surely satisfy beer geeks.
Pro Tip: All day Tuesdays enjoy a movie for only $5. KERRY FINSAND
The Empirical Theater
1945 SE Water Ave., Portland, 503-797-4000, omsi.edu/theater
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Empirical Theater is without a doubt among the finest movie-going experiences in the Portland area. It is also one of the most frustrating. The former OMNIMAX theater has the biggest screen and loudest sound system around and offers relatively cheap tickets and real food concessions from the museum’s Theory cafe, but the schedule is often set only a few days in advance and private events can leave the concession counter cut off from the restaurant and unable to serve alcohol.
These quirks may explain why the theater feels like Portland’s best-kept secret. Though the place fills up for festivals and other special events, if you go to a weeknight screening you’ll likely find yourself alone in your row. The space is vertigo-inducing — the screen is four stories high and the rows are narrow — and low attendance can make the place feel spooky.
It’s too bad the Empirical hasn’t become more popular. It’s easy to get to by transit or bicycle, and evening tickets include parking. There isn’t a better-looking screen or better-sounding audio in the city, and tickets actually get cheaper in the evening: the second-run blockbusters are $7, while the daytime nature and space documentaries are $8.50. The theater is also home to ingenious events like Reel Science, where classics like “The Matrix” and “The Silence of the Lambs” are paired with lectures by local researchers, and Edible Cinema, where they’re partnered with a tasting menu.
If you care more about the beer than the flicks, there are better options. Here you’re limited —when you can get them — to a small selection of bottled flagship brews from Ninkasi and Widmer.
Pro tip: The best view is from way, way up near the top row. It’s also the quickest exit. BEN WATERHOUSE
4122 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, 503-493-1128, hollywoodtheatre.org
A truly show-stopping landmark, this modern-historic theatre has been entertaining the public since 1926. It was actually such an attraction that Portland's Hollywood District based its name on the movie house. Now owned by a nonprofit, the 384-seat main auditorium and two smaller theaters upstairs have gone through many restorations throughout the years, allowing the space to continue to showcase the art of filmmaking with features ranging from independent to foreign and classic. Today, $9 gets you into most screenings ($6 if you’re a member).
Putting the “modern” in modern-historic, inside the theatre you’ll find six rotating tap selections for only $4 each — which is a steal for a beer anywhere, let alone a theatre. But if drinking out of a plastic cup isn’t your thing, you can upgrade to a limited-edition Hollywood Theatre pint glass designed by Leila del Duca. It’s $6 empty or $9 full of beer — an even better value, plus a you get a souvenir to add to your pint glass collection! You can pair your beer with a slice of Atomic Pizza, Salt & Straw ice cream or some house-made popcorn (voted best in Portland). If you’re feeling extra ravenous, order all of the above. With such reasonable prices, you can afford to sit back, relax and indulge — to an extent. Although there’s no in-theatre service, concessions are within steps of the main auditorium.
Fun Fact: Next time you’re traveling through PDX, be sure to check out Hollywood Theatre’s new micro-cinema, located past security at Concourse C. If you’re a ticketed passenger, you can drop by to watch a variety of shorts by Oregon filmmakers — free of charge. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Joy Cinema & Pub
11959 SW Pacific Hwy, Tigard, 971-245-6467, thejoycinema.com
It may come as no surprise that a movie theater is one of Tigard’s oldest remaining businesses. Joy Cinema & Pub probably looks a bit unconventional on the inside these days than compared to its opening in 1939 when the movie house was screening “Gone With the Wind” for audiences — but its mission to entertain the masses remains and keeps drawing a crowd.
Situated along a traffic-choked section of 99W next to a falafel shop, the delightful distraction of clutter in the Joy’s lobby makes it easy to forget about the bustle beyond its doors. A zebra trim pops alongside walls painted purple and a leopard-print carpet accompanies you to the theater. The only decor louder than the walls and floors are the vintage movie posters advertising a mid-20th century smattering of the bad, the ugly and the smutty. Damsels in distress are splayed seductively below crazed monsters in some — others promise plenty of cinematic action in the form of boogieing on roller skates or punching with palms of steel.
While there’s plenty of space to stretch out in front of the 29-foot screen on one of 400 upholstered chairs, the comparatively compact lobby means there’s not a lot of room for bulky kegs. That’s why you’ll only find three taps at the Joy that are typically occupied by Ninkasi, Widmer and a cider — all for $4. However, there are bottled and canned options starting at three bucks. Fans of popcorn dripping in butter will be pleased that the joy is heavy on the oil. Pizza and nachos are also available if you’ve got a bigger appetite, though some of the slices looked a little ragged on the edges due to display-case fatigue. And while there aren’t fancy cup holders or trays, the best perks are found in the regulars’ enthusiasm for this neighborhood spot and the owner’s passion for movies of all stripes.
Pro tip: If you think $1 movie Monday sounds like a steal, don’t miss Weird Wednesday showings, which are always free. This is where you can practice your best “Mystery Science Theater 3000” jabs to flicks that are corny, tawdry and just plain fun. ANDI PREWITT
10350 N. Vancouver Way, Portland, 503-345-0300, jubitz.com/dining-entertainment/jubitz-cinema
More people should really be hanging out at truck stops. While the Jubitz near Jantzen Beach has no shortage of men in oversized jeans and flannel taking a break from long, lonely stretches on the road, experience operating an 18-wheeler is not a requirement for entry. There are a number of amenities at this particular pause for road warriors, but the best deal has to be the cinema. For a mere $5, you get the same experience as a Regal would offer — just in a more intimate setting. Two movies are shown four times daily in front of the 78 stadium-style seats.
The marquee and auditorium entrance is sandwiched between a bar displaying bottles of motor oil like they were top-shelf liquor and Moe’s Deli where you can buy tickets and concessions — from sandwiches to ice cream to candy. The one craft keg blew during our visit, but fortunately there’s a stock of random cans and bottles in a cooler under the counter. Beers range from $3.50-4.50, already a great deal that gets even better if you opt for the $10 combo pack of beer, popcorn and movie ticket.
Pro tip: Moe’s Deli is slammed minutes before show time, so arrive early and stroll through the little village crafted for the enjoyment of truckers that’s kind of like a low-rent casino. In addition to the cinema, you can play arcade games, get your hair done, eat at a buffet and tour the small Jubitz museum. Or you could simply chat up the friendly truckers lounging around in the lobby. ANDI PREWITT
Lake Theater & Cafe
106 N. State St., Lake Oswego, 503-482-2135, laketheatercafe.com
This is a movie house with touches of Lake Oswego bourgeoisie balanced by a quirky character that keeps the experience enjoyable and grounded. Lake Theater & Cafe also has the distinction of sitting on the shore of Lakewood Bay, so before you retreat to the auditorium grab a table on the dock for a view of rich people on boats and standup paddleboards. Films began screening here in 1940 for just a quarter and the business in its current form launched three years ago.
Even if you don’t catch a flick while you’re here, the view, impressive bar and made-from-scratch menu are reason enough to pay old town LO a visit. Eight wildly different beers were on tap recently ($6 each) and there wasn’t a dud in the bunch. This is also one of the only theaters that allows customers to drink from actual glass pints in the theater. A chalkboard near the kitchen window proudly displays the 19 Oregon and Washington farms that help supply Lake Cafe’s food — underscoring the business’s commitment to quality and sustainability.
With a full bar, restaurant, patio and cinema — you might have assumed there was already a lot going on here. Well, Lake Theater also hosts performances on Monday evenings in a separate event space along with Wednesday trivia, which won third place in last year’s Willamette Week Best of Portland Readers’ Poll. The only downside to the theater’s location is that neighboring live music can sometimes creep into the background during a hushed moment in a movie.
Pro tip: Get to your seat at least 15 minutes early for some pre-feature schlock — recently the theater played a segment of 1980’s “Flash Gordon.” ANDI PREWITT
2735 E. Burnside St., Portland, 503-232-5511, laurelhursttheater.com
It is hard to miss the Laurelhurst Theater with its large iconic sign and art deco design on Northeast Burnside in Portland. The theater was built in 1923 by Walter Tebbetts, who owned, managed or constructed a number of Portland theaters, including the Hollywood. Originally the Laurelhurst had one screen in an auditorium that could hold 650. Over the years, expansions brought four theaters to the building where you can catch second-run, art and independent films. Also expect cult classics like “Donnie Darko” and Hollywood darlings like “La La Land.”
Enjoy food from Laurelhurst’s sister restaurant New Deal Cafe in one of the lobby’s booths before the movie or in the auditorium on much-appreciated shelves. The theater offers nine taps for seven beers and two ciders. A 16-ounce beer costs $5 and for those who don’t want to get out of their seat for a refill during the film, take advantage of 48-ounce pitchers for $14. The beer selection is balanced with beers that will appeal to most palates.
Pro Tip: Check out the nostalgic movie theater posters for a trip back in time. KERRY FINSAND
Living Room Theaters
341 SW 10th Ave., Portland, 971-222-2010, pdx.livingroomtheaters.com
When you plan on heading downtown, making a stop at a movie theater probably isn’t first on your agenda with all the great breweries, restaurants and shops nearby. But after you discover Living Room Theaters, perhaps that idea will sneak its way a little higher up on your to-do list.
Upon entry, beautiful cedar walls and plenty of windows contribute to a sunny vibe in the lounge area. There’s even a roll-up garage door that allows for open air and outdoor seating during warmer months. It’s somewhere you’d want to unwind even if you weren’t planning on watching a movie — although you really should. Being the first all-digital and only-digital theater in the country allows for easier distribution of independent films — even those from first-time filmmakers. The six cozy auditoriums feature a nice mix of indie and foreign films like these along with popular first-run movies.
To get the most bang for your buck, go on a Monday or Tuesday when the movies are only $5 and use the extra cash to splurge on some tapas — like the Chicken Prosciutto Skewers or the Veggie Sushi Hand Roll — and, of course, some local craft beer from one of the nine rotating taps (one recently poured kombucha). Be sure to arrive about 30 minutes before the show to place your order for in-theater food and drink service — and prepare to have your senses dazzled! ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub
3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, 503-249-7474, mcmenamins.com/bagdad-theater-pub
Opened in 1927, the Bagdad originally hosted silent films, live stage shows, vaudeville acts and more. Its large neon marquee was a beacon for area residents. In the early days, the theater was drenched in Middle-Eastern decor and ushers wore uniforms meant to evoke an Arabian-theme. Since being restored by the McMenamins in 1991, the Bagdad has become a Hawthorne District icon. They show first run movies. The beer list is comprised primarily of McMenamins beers, along with some rotating guest taps. Nothing super-exciting, but decent enough. Wine can also be had. Theater concessions include pizza and snacks. Patrons can also order from the pub menu.
Pro tip: If you decide to order food to be delivered, you’ll have to sit on the balcony. Nothing at all wrong with that because the balcony has comfortable seating and great views. Keep in mind food service can be a little slow. You might wind up getting your meal well into your movie. PETE DUNLOP
McMenamins Kennedy School Theater
5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland, 503-249-3983, mcmenamins.com/kennedy-school
The McMenamins have mastered the art of establishing a canvas upon which local culture can flourish. The Kennedy School may be the best example of what they do in their empire. The movie theater here is makeshift — a former grade school auditorium. Seating isn’t laid out like a typical theater and the screen is relatively small. The sound system is adequate, but won’t blast you out of your seat. Like the rest of the McMenamins theaters, Kennedy School shows first-run movies. Choose from one of several McMenamins beers on your way in. No guest taps on a recent visit, though PBR and Coors Light were in the house. Grab a snack or something more — they’ve got pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salads. Neither the food nor the beer are going to blow you away, but the overall experience is comfortable enough. If the movie doesn’t turn your crank, bail the theater and wander the halls. Take a gander at the photos and promotional posters that dot the walls. Soak up the latent history. Grab a drink in one of the countless bars and niche spaces. You might even find music. In the end, you’ll realize the place has more personality and charm than anywhere you’ve been in years. PETE DUNLOP
McMenamins Mission Theater & Pub
1624 NW Glisan St., Portland, 503-223-4527, mcmenamins.com/mission-theater
Mission Theater is the neighborhood event darling of the McMenamins auditoriums. They play old movies and big sporting events along with hosting trivia, readings, concerts and even drag queen bingo. If a celebrity dies, expect a heartstring-tugging tribute to show up on the screen at the Mission. Located on the west side of I-405, parking can be a nightmare, so take transit if possible. Mission offers a slim menu of pizza, salads and theater snacks like popcorn and candy. An average of five regular McMenamins beers are on tap along with a couple of ciders and wines. Sometimes a guest beer makes an appearance. Buying a ticket online is suggested for convenience, but not always necessary. It’s first come, first serve, so if you think there might be a lot of buzz about a certain showing, get there a little early to snag a balcony seat for the best view in the house. If you don’t see well in the dark though, stick to the lower level. It can be a logistical nightmare to navigate for anyone besides spritely millennials.
Pro Tip: The main bathrooms are in the basement, which can be quite the trek after a beer or two. Plan accordingly. HOLLY AMLIN
McMenamins Power Station Theater
2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, 503-492-4686, mcmenamins.com/edgefield/power-station-theater
Spending time at Edgefield is easy, and there to help prolong your visit is the Power Station Theater & Pub. It’s a bustling little area of the campus where you might get clotheslined by a server if you’re not careful. Adhere to a few guidelines for an optimal experience. First, buy your ticket online in advance. The movies are brand new and there’s assigned seating on the main floor, plus a balcony. It pays to plan ahead — unless you like getting stuck next to that person who pops her shoes off and gets comfortable using the table in front of you as a footrest. Second, arrive 45 minutes early for table service and bypass the ridiculously long line formed at the bar by using the side entrance.
The tables in the theater are awkwardly far from the seats, so eat before the movie starts to avoid any distractions. Ordering late inevitably requires a server to yell your order from the end of the aisle in the middle of the movie. Don’t be that person. If punctuality isn’t your thing, or you need another libation, wait 30 minutes into the movie and a bartender will help you, lickety-split. Lastly, drink beer for goodness’ sake. With all the chaos outside, you’ll need something to calm you down. Edgefield has their own beer, cider, and wine. Go for the Tropic Tart Sour. HOLLY AMLIN
McMenamins St. Johns Theater & Pub
8203 N. Ivanhoe St., Portland, 503-283-8520, mcmenamins.com/st-johns-theater-pub
Before attending a movie at this renovated World’s Fair building, it’s recommended you buy an assigned-seat ticket online, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Check the website to see how booked it is and make a decision from there. The movies are first run, but there may not be a stampede as the films have been out for about a month. Locating the St. Johns Theater & Pub is easy — just look for a large, golden dome at the corner of North Ivanhoe Street and Richmond Avenue. The entrance is just past a lush, outdoor patio, which you’ll want to visit later. Once inside, check in or reserve a seat at the ticketing kiosk to the right. Buy some beer and food from the full menu at the bar -- but be careful, the tables here are also a bit of a stretch from the chairs (not unlike the Power Station Theater).
All of the McMenamins’ staple beers are available, as well as ciders, a few seasonals and a guest tap. The beers are light on ABV, which you’ll find refreshing once you start to cook inside the poorly air-conditioned room.
Pro Tip: The pub features ample decor and the most interesting feature is the ceiling. Check out the dome’s underbelly in the theater, but don’t forget to appreciate the murals and chandeliers near the bar. HOLLY AMLIN
6712 SE Milwaukie Ave., Portland, 503-236-5257, morelandtheater.com
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect neighborhood theater than the Moreland. Nestled in the middle of the Westmoreland commercial strip on Southeast Milwaukie Avenue, the 91-year-old former vaudeville theater is cozy, clean and cheap — and, since 2015, the concessions counter serves beer.
Though large by contemporary standards, the Moreland’s single, 675-seat auditorium is dinky compared to the movie palaces that inspired it, but it was built with ambition. The ornate interior — think Venetian-revival-meets-Moorish-revival, with florid light fixtures and winged creatures crawling along the crown molding — is run-down, but charming. The seats are threadbare and you can still see the gaps where the pre-talkie-era organ used to reside, but the screen is bright and the sound system is plenty loud. Families mob the place on weekends for $5 screenings of first-run blockbusters.
A chalkboard just past the ticket counter advertises four taps plus two wines. Beers are $5.50 apiece, served in a 16-ounce plastic cup without a lid. The lines are clean, but the Breakside keg seemed to be on the older side during a recent visit. A huge, “medium” popcorn is just $3. Dig in.
Pro tip: There’s no bad seat in the house, so go ahead and grab one of the less worn-out seats in the side rows. BEN WATERHOUSE
Valley Cinema Pub
9360 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Beaverton, 503-296-6843, valleycinemapub.com
This Beaverton venue isn’t much to look at on the outside. The same can be said of the inside, really. But the humble small-box theater is the only one from the 1960s still welcoming moviegoers and it doesn’t need any frills to screen a feature and serve a cold beer.
Valley Cinema Pub (or Valley Theater or Theatre, in its various names online) is owned by a Scappoose native who also operates CineMagic and Moreland. Tucked away in the ‘burbs next to a concrete business park and aging strip mall, the theater might seem like a hidden gem. But the secret is out as illustrated by a line of people past the door during $1 Monday. That deal repeats on Tuesday where you have the choice of seeing one of eight movies in the building’s four auditoriums. Whiteboards display listings in dry-erase marker, but they’re not always updated — so check the website for correct times.
The tap list is varied but safe — there are six handles for beer and one pouring cider, but there’s nothing unique worth bragging about on Untappd. However, slices from Pizza Schmizza for sale are an upgrade from most theater pub pies. There are tables and chairs in the austere wood-grain lobby, so you could eat there while counting the number of children who point and stare at the payphone on the wall, asking their parents what that mysterious thing is. Otherwise, might as well grab your seat in the auditorium and settle in.
Pro tip: Rumor has it, Valley Cinema is haunted by a man clad in flannel. Several overnight cleaners have even left their gig after spotting the ghost. Best keep an eye out for anyone in a plaid button down who has the ability to walk through walls. ANDI PREWITT
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