One of North Portland's most famous and beloved bars, The Alibi, will be taken over by the owners of Club 21, the Mercury has learned. Alibi staff members were told today that the longtime Tiki/karaoke bar on 4024 N Interstate will now be leased by the owners of Club 21, Sandy Hut, Double Barrel, and Gold Dust Meridian. According to Club 21's Warren Boothby, he and partner Marcus Archambeault have been talking with the bar's longtime owners, the White family, and all agreed they wanted to continue the bar's legacy.
"We're really excited for this bar to continue as the Alibi," Boothby told the Mercury. "We'll be keeping the Tiki theme and decorations—and maybe adding a few new pieces—as well as keeping the karaoke, of course. All the place really needs is some TLC and love. We'll be modifying the menu and cocktail program, but other than that it will be the same Alibi that Portland knows and loves."
Boothby plans on keeping the current staff and adding a few more employees, and as soon as the submitted licenses clear and following a couple days of clean up, the new Alibi will be up and running—perhaps just after the first of the year.
"We really want to be stewards of this place," Boothby added. "Like the White family, we want it to be there forever."
While the Alibi officially started way back in 1947, according to Critiki, the place originally started as a bar in the late 1800s.
The Alibi has a long history that predates tiki. It began in the late 1800s as the Chat-n-Nibble, a horse & buggy stop along a dirt road. In later days it became a tavern called Max Alibi. The third owner, Roy Ell, took over the tavern in 1947 and renamed it The Alibi. Ell had travelled to Hawaii, and is responsible for changing the decor to reflect his own Polynesian tastes. The tavern was expanded to include the restaurant in the 1950s. The Witco-inspired rails and 3D hula-girl mural were 1970s additions. In the 1980s, Ell leased The Alibi with the agreement that the decor must stay as is. The current lessee has been running The Alibi since 1992.
Here's what former Arts Editor Alison Hallett wrote about The Alibi back in 2013:
Like an airport lounge or a dive bar in Newberg, the Alibi during off hours feels comfortably anonymous. If you drank six Bahama Mamas and disappeared into the night, all traces of your indiscretions would disappear with you. The Alibi serves up the sweetest, most low-rent tiki drinks in town—bartenders have a heavy hand with the flavored vodkas. While the daytime vibe is chill, the nighttime karaoke crowd doesn't know the meaning of "island time." The Alibi is a completely different beast when the patrons start warbling—it's BUSY, and hard to bust your way through the sea-shelled maze. But with all that tiki grog in your belly, it'll feel downright cozy.