The Rialto will soon be no more. Jack London Bar, one of Portland's only literary holdouts in downtown, will soon be no more. The Kentucky Derby in Portland will never quite be the same.
The off-track betting parlor and pool hall and deeply unashamed den of iniquity, open 96 years in the heart of downtown Portland and spiritual home to every would-be Hunter S. Thompson or hard-luck soul in town, will hold its final farewell Sunday, December 25, according to a Facebook post by the bar today.
The owner, Arthur McFadden, is retiring, staff says. However, on their Facebook page announcement, the bar had a more succinct and suggestive reason for its closure: "Inflation." We've reached out to the bar's management for more details, and will report them as they become available.
The Rialto, as a nearly century-old gambling hall and home to the both the down and out and a host of courthouse lawyers, makes up a historic gambling-hall double-whammy alongside former card hall the Lotus Room, which closed this month after over 90 years. The Lotus' ancient cherrywood bartop being preserved by the McMenamin brothers. That building will become a 21-story boutique hotel.
This is not the first time the Rialto has closed since opening in 1920; its current incarnation has been around since 2004, and reopened a decade ago as home to better-than-decent bar food.
Upstairs at the Rialto is a vast array of pool tables, while downstairs is a white-bright off-track gambling hall, whose card tables were swathed in a hilariously toxic density of cigarette smoke until laws made that illegal. The bar's downstairs event space, the Jack London Room, has been home to both literary readings and dance parties.
During Triple Crown racing, the Rialto fills to the brim with mint julep seekers in Hawaiian shirts and three-piece-suits, placing trifecta wagers at the bar's windows and betting machines.
But it looks like the Derby has had its last run at the Rialto, at least for now.