Chopsticks III will soon be no more.
As the bar announced last night on its Facebook page, the How Can Be Lounge will cease to be on Saturday night.
David Chow's Chopsticks empire has long been Portland's most raucous and loved karaoke tradition. And that tradition will continue at Chopsticks at 33rd and Sandy Boulevard, a packed former strip club we called "everything you imagine when you think of a karaoke bar" in this year's Bar Guide.
But Chow and his wife's Chopsticks III, in the upper reaches of Portland on Northeast Columbia Boulevard, was a whole different and often equally vital experience—an industrial zone drinking haunt for warehouse workers and far north rockers, the kind of place where Bon Jovi and the Crue may or may not not be ironic, and where both Christmas and Christmas Eve filled to the sidewalks with holiday orphans belting their hearts out.
The New York Times visited the bar, improbably, in 2013—as part of a love song to Portland karaoke:
"How Can Be Lounge is located between a heavy-equipment rental shop and a Hanson pipe factory. It's the kind of awful nightspot where if your watch was broken, you could keep time by the diminishing height of the melting heap of ice dumped in the urinal in the men's room. When the heap of ice read 10:00, Chopsticks III was jammed with 50 people or more: groups of women out for a night away; a dwarf with an Afro who submitted his power ballads under the stage name Micro; a group of four buddies whose Monday-night karaoke club requires them to sing any song a friend challenges them to, blind. Also, a troupe of puppeteers from a local children's theater, their snakes, ducks and cowgirls laid carefully across a table in the back of the bar."
But as the bar announced Thursday night, the puppet part is over.
"Alright everyone, sad news," reads the bar's Ides of March Facebook entry, "Chopsticks III has sold and the next three nights will be our last, we are closing our doors forever Saturday night (17th). Come in and say goodbye! Karaoke will start at 8:30, hope to see you all one last time!"
The reaction from patrons was immediate.
"This is the best karaoke place!!!why?!???" wrote one.
"Genuinely the worst news I've ever heard," wrote another.
But never count Chopsticks out. After Chopsticks II was forced to close on East Burnside after landlord negotiations broke down, Chow bought a building on Sandy and rebirthed the bar as a much more durable tradition at the edge of Laurelhurst.
It seems as long as there is Christmas, there will always be a Chopsticks in Portland.