The dimly red-lit Matador bar on West Burnside—for over 40 years a mainstay in Portland among cheery degenerates—will close on Friday, September 12.
The Matador bears no relation whatsoever to Casa Del Matador restaurants—though cheekier bartenders did occasionally offer free appetizers to presumably misdirected callers asking for reservations. Bar owner Casey Maxwell is, however, also owner of Southeast Belmont bar The Conquistador.
He announced the Matador's closure on the bar's Facebook page at 6:09 pm, Sept. 10. Staff had been informed weeks earlier that the bar was likely to close. Maxwell writes:
Dear Matadorians,It is with a heavy heart that I announce that this Friday September 12'th will be the last night of business for The Matador. Thank you all for the years of good times and laughs. Come down for one last call and say goodbye. All my best- Casey"I know you got soulIf you didn't you wouldn't be in here"The Matador (1971-2014)R.I.P.
The bar has served as a drunken bridge between wholehearted dives like nearby Marathon Taverna and Tony's Tavern and the tonier bar district around 21st Avenue—a rare open-armed border crossing. There's perhaps no better description of the Matador than in Maxwell's own words, in a press release he sent out in 2006 when he bought the place from its previous owner, Angelo Marchi:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MATADOR TURNS 40, CHANGES HANDS, STAYS IN FAMILY! 11/16/06 Yuppies, homeless, punks, and hipsters The Matador familyâs brothers and sisters Lawyers, gangsters, housewives, and pros, At the Matador, theyâre all regular Joes. Gay, straight, trans-gendered, bi? Everyone gets laid at the Matador, even the shy. Black, white, plaid, chartreuse, Frat boys, fuck-ups, the occasional pooch Young or old, rich or poor Youâll find them all at the Matador. Lordy, lordy, look whoâs forty! Portland, Oregonâs infamous Matador is still going strong as it enters its fifth decade, changing hands for the first time in eight years. Angelo Marchi, owner and operator of the beloved bar since 1998, has sold the business to long-time friends and employees, Rebecca Wolfe and Casey Maxwell. "We want our loyal patrons to rest assured that the Matador will continue in the spirit of our founding father,â says Rebecca, who has bartended at the Matador since 1999. âAngelo's energy and strange magic has made this a place so loved by so many, and with his blessing, and your support, we will rock on into the future." Changes are afoot, but fear not, the Matador will still be the Matador we all know and love! Casey is also a longterm employee of The Matador. He says, "The Matador is all soul. Soul like Sam and Dave. Soul like the Reverend Al Green. In life, there will always be ups and downs, but the Matador will always be there when you need it most. Always right on time."
Godspeed, Matador. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, âNobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.â