North Portland, say goodbye to Bunk.
The local sandwich empire has sold its Bunk Bar location underneath the Wonder Ballroom concert theater at 128 NE Russell St., which it has occupied since 2012. And if you live in the neighborhood and were hoping to grab one last pork belly cubano and Sidepipe margarita, we've got more bad news—they're already gone, effective today.
Related: Bar Guide 2016: Bunk Bar Wonder.
Here's some good news, though: The bar is staying in the family.
Bunk owners Tommy Habetz and Matt Brown have turned the location over to longtime manager Josh Luebke and his wife, Sierra Kirk-Luebke. Starting tomorrow, it'll be known as Cliff's—a tribute to Luebke's grandfather. And while the Bunk staples will no longer be sold there, several of Luebke's specials that frequently popped up on the menu, like the smoked fried chicken and smoked beef sandwich, will now be available full-time.
Luebke has been involved at the location going back to the days of Trigger, Bunk's short-lived excursion into Tex-Mex, and Habetz and Brown had long discussed the possibility of selling it to him.
"It just seemed like the right time," Habetz tells WW in an email. "Josh has really brought a lot of himself to that spot already and we want to support him any way we can so that he kills it there."
Sierra Kirk-Luebke, meanwhile, is a veteran bartender whose résumé includes stints at Pope House, Hale Pele and bars throughout her hometown of New Orleans. She'll be expanding the bar's pretty much non-existent cocktail program to include takes on classic drinks and seasonal specials.
Beyond that, not much is changing.
"We want it to be a comfortable spot where you can come in the afternoon and play pinball with your kid, or come with a date," Kirk-Luebke says. "So much stuff is shutting down in that neighborhood, it's important to maintain what it is."
Because the bar serves Wonder Ballroom, the changeover has to happen quick—the Luebkes essentially have today to make a few tweaks to the decor and layout before reopening in time for the venue's next show. Kirk-Luebke says they'll eventually have a grand opening celebration.
As for Bunk, Habetz says no other major changes to the brand are expected in the near future. So if you're in the Eliot area and still hankering for that cubano, don't worry—the Bunk on Alberta is, like, two miles away.