Old Town Brewing has temporarily shut down its historic restaurant in the heart of its namesake neighborhood, which over years has gained a beloved following due to its beer and haunted reputation.
The business posted an announcement about the closure on its Facebook page early this evening, stating that the "decision was not easily made. Old Town Pizza has remained a steadfast hub for our community to gather at since 1974, and we want to make sure it still holds that historic value through the end of this."
Owner Adam Milne tells WW he had been struggling with the possibility that he might have to shutter the location on Northwest Davis Street since at least last week.
"The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75," he says. "I spent the last week trying to get a rent reduction from our landlord, but was unsuccessful. We really need help from the city. Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business."
On July 3, Milne wrote the latest installment in a "Coronavirus Diaries" series for the Beervana blog, which has examined business behind the scenes for brewers during the pandemic.
"We are now out of our PPP loan money. The loan allowed us to run a bit loose with how we staffed. Those funds gave us the opportunity to experiment with business hours and creative ideas like the Brewers Market. That time is sadly over. We now have to run our company with laser-focused efficiency. Every dollar we squander will shorten the time we can hang on.
"To be completely upfront, our downtown location is really hurting. It is the foundation of our company. We were down 80% in our downtown location sales starting March 16, and we are now down even more. It started when the Governor opened up neighboring counties except for Multnomah County. With nearby options, there was not as much of a reason to get to-go food in Portland. That coupled with the boarding-up of downtown businesses [due to Black Lives Matter protests] has caused our city to avoid downtown. Those customers who did come in were turned off by the many tents overflowing our Old Town neighborhood and the daily arguments in the streets."
The Old Town site has long been popular outside the beer nerd crowd, since it is located directly above Portland's infamous Shanghai Tunnels and reportedly boasts a number of ghosts, including one of a woman who fell down a former elevator shaft that is now cozy lounge seating.
Old Town's Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard location and brewing headquarters remains open to customers, serving up its Great American Beer Festival-medaling brews and pizza. That's where the team got creative during the lockdown and turned the parking lot there into a mashup of a drive-thru and a brewer safari.
Once Multnomah County moved into Phase 1 of reopening, Old Town halted the drive-thru to focus on returning to dine-in service, which includes expanded outdoor seating with tents, umbrellas and artificial turf.