Portland jazz club Jimmy Mak's has announced it will be closing at the end of 2016. A statement has been released which details the circumstances, which are truly unfortunate.
Jimmy Mak’s, Portland’s nationally renowned jazz club and one of the city’s longest-running nightclubs of any genre, will close its doors indefinitely after its final show on December 31, according to owner Jimmy Makarounis.
“It is with a heavy heart I make this announcement,” Makarounis said. “Jimmy Mak’s has been a family home to world-class musicians of many different genres, particularly the city’s best jazz players. The club also presents many of the world’s top jazz and blues players and has become a significant West Coast stop on many of these artists’ tours.”
Makarounis is currently undergoing immunotherapy treatments for cancer of the larynx, which has intensified in the past five weeks. His doctors insist that he step away from Jimmy Mak’s business to focus solely on healing.
The building that the club currently occupies was sold for development approximately one year ago, which made a change of locations necessary. The club had identified a new location in February, just east of N.W. 10th on Everett St. in the Pearl District.
Makarounis said the new club’s buildout was fully funded and moving ahead, planning for a move and grand opening in early 2017: a beautiful new space with a larger stage, upgraded sound and lighting, designed to provide unobstructed site lines with more seating available for both reserved and general admission ticket holders. In addition, a spacious new outdoor courtyard was in the works.
Now, with this sudden change in his health, the project cannot move forward and the 20-year-old jazz institution will cease operations at the end of 2016.
“As it became apparent that my health could prevent us from moving forward with the move of the club, we began to explore opportunities for other owner/operators to step in and take on the opportunity to finish the project and keep the club open,” Makarounis said. “Unfortunately, we could not find anyone willing to step in and take on the project.”
At present, there is still an opportunity for another owner/operator to step in to fund and finish the buildout of the new location and carry on the Jimmy Mak’s brand, Makarounis said.
Jimmy Mak’s, founded by Jimmy Makarounis and his family, opened its doors in 1996. The club has been designated “one of the world’s top 100 places to hear jazz” by Down Beat Magazine.
The proposed future of Jimmy Mak's, announced earlier this year, sounded very promising in the planning stages, and it is a real shame the plans have been stymied. With this closure, Portland will lose its highest-profile jazz performance space as well as a fixture of downtown's music scene. Here's hoping that Makarounis has a full and speedy recovery, and that the future of Jimmy Mak's might be brighter than the current situation indicates. Here's Jimmy Mak's calendar while it lasts.