Late on Friday nights, the hottest spot in Portland might not be where you'd expect: the Marathon Taverna on West Burnside Street. The Greek-owned and -inflected sports bar looks like a motel from the outside and hosts decades of day-drinker regulars during early hours, while at night it's a college bar without a college—with sticky floors, $4 Tic-Tacs and $3.50 mini pitchers of Rolling Rock.
Patrons are, however, handsomely rewarded for staying into the wee hours.
Around 12:30 am each Friday, bartenders hand out raffle tickets, circuiting the bar to make sure each patron receives one. Someone near you always seems to win something—usually a Bud Light bucket, a PBR hat or maybe even an XL Marathon Taverna shirt.
But the final item kicks up the whole thing a dozen notches, making your long stay that much more affirming: You can easily walk away with 100-level Blazers or Section 122 Thorns tickets, depending on the season.
"We're a sports bar, so we want to support the local teams and give something back to our customers," says bar manager Anestis Polizos, whose family owns the bar.
The raffle is a longtime Marathon tradition dating back at least 10 years. The Blazers have given the Taverna season tickets for the past two decades—and while the staff keeps tickets to 10 or so games, it happily gives them away for the other 30.
"My dad's been there for 40 years, and he loves the raffle," says Polizos. "He takes a personal joy in keeping it around."