Collaborations have been all the rage in music, design and craft consumables for years now. So maybe it makes sense that the trend has hopped into the bar world. The brand-new Thunderbird (5339 SE Foster Rd., instagram.com/Thunderbirdpdx) is a different sort of collaboration.
New biz buddies Kurt Huffman and John Janulis, who have made a habit of trading off troubled properties, eventually forming a short-lived company to operate Omerta together downtown, are working together to turn a long-deserted space next to Foster Burger into a pleasant new bar with a midcentury-modern feel. The Janulis-helmed Lightning Bar Collective is the operator, and has brought its signature style from spots like Century, Jackknife and the Bye and Bye to this space. The design features modish light fixtures, orderly spirit shelves and the original painting of South Jersey racing legend Steve Elias by in-house artist Juan Casas.
The drinks are the same style of mid-range cocktails you find at other spots in the empire, along with a limited pint selection and $2 Olys. When it came time for a food menu, though, Janulis teamed up with Huffman's Foster Burger, which shares a wall. Now, it also shares a kitchen, with Foster Burger making vegan food with "meat" from Homegrown Smoker and delivering it next door.
Alongside Foster Burger's own signature lineup of burgers, rings and fries, the menu also includes a rice bowl with smoked tempeh. Among the burgers, the beers and a large covered smoking patio with heaters, Thunderbird is likely to become part of the neighborhood bar circuit, which also recently added the Lay Low Tavern on Powell.