As old-timers come out of the woodwork to celebrate the final weeks of Satyricon, the bad news keeps on coming. Berbati's Pan, a fixture the Portland music scene since 1993, will discontinue its live music operations after December 31.
Reached by telephone, Berbati's co-owner John Papaioannou let out a heavy sigh. "The rumor is true. We've been around for a long time," he said, referring to both the club and his family, which has operated the venue for fifteen years. "The last two years have been really the toughest...we've had shows that should be sold out and they're more than half empty."
Papaioannou cited competition and a weak economy as the major factors forcing the club's closure. He explained that Berbati's will continue to operate as a restaurant and bar, with its Eastern half (the portion of the business which has been operational since 1985, before its 1995 expansion) remaining open for uninterrupted business. The venue (or "Pan") side will host its final show on New Year's Eve. After that, the space will close to undergo an extensive remodeling process. About half of the former venue space will become home to an expanded Voodoo Donut, while Berbati's intends to keep the remaining portion of the building as a more intimate, "bohemian" bar/nightclub space. "We may eventually host some small shows," Papaioannou said. "But we won't be a music venue five days a week."
"I think we had a good run," he added.
The closure—while long-rumored and not entirely surprising—is another blow to Portland's beleaguered all ages music scene. There may be a silver lining: There are currently at least three new all ages clubs in various embryonic stages around town, including an expanded Branx (in the old Loveland/current Rotture building). Berbati's began hosting regular all ages shows in 2009, becoming one in a relative handful of local clubs with the capacity to do so.
Current booker Matt King did not immediately offer an on-the-record response, but said he would do so shortly. Former booker and Runaway Productions head Anthony Sanchez was saddened by the news. "I grew up in that place, it really is like a second home to me," he said via email. We'll have much more on this latest club closure in the days and weeks to come.
A SHORT VIDEO HISTORY OF BERBATI'S PAN
An early Modest Mouse show ('96 or '97) and some weird bonus footage: