NEW âSPACE AGE: Backspace, Portlandâs longest-running all-ages music venue, is looking to move from its 10-year Old Town location. Owner Eric Robison says âif all the stars align right,â the club will move into the building currently occupied by the Conga Club, at 4923 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., beginning Nov. 1. Robison says the move is being spurred in part by a recent City Council decision requiring nightclubs in pre-code buildings to add sprinkler systems. In addition to already having sprinklers, the Northeast building has a 400-person capacityâroughly double Backspaceâs sizeâand a full bar. The club will be âlike a mini Crystal Ballroomâ and remain all-ages, Robison says. âItâs a better, safer location for what weâre trying to do,â he adds. Backspace will remain open as a coffee shop in its current location at a reduced size, and there have been preliminary talks to expand Ground Kontrol into the Backspace building, Robison says. UPDATE (9/18): According to Conga Club owner Roger Rumba, there have been no talks of selling his club to Robison, nor was he aware that Robison was looking into purchasing the space.
SUSHI SHAKEUP: It looks like executive chef Kaoru Ishii quietly left Hokusei Sushi on Southeast Belmont Street over the summer. The veteran, whoâs worked in Japan sushi houses and at Los Angelesâ Matsuhisa, moved over to the Pearl Districtâs Yama Sushi at the end of July. Heemoon Chaeâknown to regulars as Chef Scottâremains head chef at Yama. The sushi chefs at Hokusei are currently owner Cody Auger and chef Lance Dillard, formerly of Masu and Boxer Sushi.
GOING DIGITAL: Newbergâs 99W Drive-In has a new lease on life, thanks to a Honda promotion that will donate digital projectors to a handful of drive-in theaters across the country. The 60-year-old movie house learned Sept. 15 that it had been selected from about 100 theaters to receive the expensive upgrade. Hollywood studios are expected to shift fully to digital distribution by the end of 2013, and without the projector, 99W may have closed. Go catch the last whiff of 35 mm before it disappearsâGremlins is playing this weekend.
OPEN BARS: Two once-pending bars are now open to the public. The new Southeast incarnation of The Nest Lounge (2715 SE Belmont St.), which held a premature opening party Aug. 2 before things were held up by city red tape, can now celebrate in earnest: The barâs grand opening was Sept. 13. >> Meanwhile, a few blocks from the Nestâs old Alberta Street location, music venue and bar the Knock Back is expected to open this week in the former Del Inti space (2315 NE Alberta St.). The official grand opening is planned for the end of September, and concert bookings begin Oct. 3.