For a lot of reasons, it’s good to be back in Oregon–like gigging at McMenamins venues. (This weekend I play a pair of their elite locations: The Grand Lodge in Forest Grove and The Edgefield in Troutdale)
Here is a company that could only bloom in the Northwest, where we have a taste for “from-the-heart” business ideas and a holistic approach to development.
A while back, two craft-ale-brewing brothers started out with pub. They got a tavern and then a cafe. Soon they got a passion for buildings with intriguing local history. This led to old hotels, ballrooms, pool halls, movie theaters, poor farms, defunct elementary schools, churches, brothels, even bathhouses. They turned each location into an outlet unique to its building structure, its history, and its neighborhood. They had local artists paint stream-of-consciousness murals on the interior walls–telling the buildings’ stories.
Some are fine-dining restaurants, some are gritty dive bars, some are fancy resort hotels with spas and golf courses, some are hippy enclaves
The movie theaters are still movie theaters, only with ale & wine. Each outlet is totally unique, and bright spot in its community.
McM’s is also very important to Music–nationally and regionally. While they have big high profile shows at The Crystal Ballroom and The Edgefield, they keep the local music scene thriving with a roster of incredible Northwest talent to play the smaller venues nearly every night of the week.
You’ll find some of these artists on their Great Northwest Music Tour. (My other band,The Renegade Saints, got to be part of GNMT, and we got a live album out of it.)
Now, I’m bragging on this company, because I keep coming back to these things in my home state that I can’t take for granted. In these uncertain economic times, one is proud of a local business done good.
Furthermore, Looking back into my past, I can’t help feeling partly responsible for their success, considering the massive quantities of ale I quaffed in my younger days. Terminator Stout, Hammerhead, Ruby.
I urge my friends from afar: If you visit Oregon–and you should–you will likely see a few McMenamins dates on my calendar. You should come.