A guy walks into a bar … to find a photo booth, a rotating crop of up-and-coming live musical acts, craft cocktails, karaoke and shuffleboard tournaments. The punchline? This bar is in the Parkrose commercial district.
Out of the ashes of the mismanaged disaster that was Gilhooligans Bar & Grill (10810 N.E. Sandy Blvd.), a vivacious cocktail lounge with a Southern barbeue menu will open in its stead by the name of O’Dear, according to Vince Culp, who owns Whiskey Tango in Hood River (112 Oak St.) and 2nd Street Bar in Gresham (42 N.E. 2nd St.), and Scott Thomason, who is one of the founders of Broadcast Photobooths. You can find Thomason’s photobooths at greater Portland hipster hotspots like Century (930 S.E. Sandy Blvd.), Jackknife (614 S.W. 11th Ave.) and Church (2600 N.E. Sandy Blvd.).
In Gilhooligans place, O’Dear is not filling big shoes so much as welcoming both sneakers and moccasins. “I have a couple other bars and restaurants in Oregon, and I try to keep them all within one general feel,” says Culp, contrasting his bar with blue-collar dive bars that tend to illustrate east Portland’s drinking scene. “O’Dear will have DJs, dance floors, pool tables and pretty much everything else that seems fun to do at a bar. There isn’t really anything like this in the area, so I’m hoping to add a fun, energetic bar in Parkrose with a lot of stuff to do.”
Culp claims O’Dear will be heavy on the live music. It will exhibit a full-blown stage complete with an upstairs lounge area. Tasteful fireplaces will accompany both levels. Culp describes the overall feel as “stained-wood comfortable, but not too fancy, where people feel uncomfortable.” This sounds much like the other bars that host Thomason’s photobooths nearer to downtown.
O’Dear could be coming at the right time. Since the brewery Level Beer (5211 N.E.148th Ave.) opened its spacious greenhouse doors last summer in the Argay Terrace neighborhood, it has been a critical darling that has brought west-side attention east of 82nd. This January, The Portland Mercury dubbed Level Beer as “an ideal pitstop going into or out of the Gorge.” Culp could be capitalizing on this success by bringing Parkrose its go-to cocktail joint. “We’ve got a big parking lot in the back, so we’ll have themed parties back there,” says Culp, who was born and raised locally off Sandy Boulevard. “We’ll have good food with a big smoke going out front. It’ll have a craft cocktail feel. The idea is to create something that everybody has a good time at and everybody feels comfortable with, from metalheads to people coming from out of the country.”
Look for the opening around the time summer hits. “I’m hoping the bar will open in another month. Much of the paperwork is done. We’re just finalizing the design on the lighting and things like that,” says Culp.