A new GoFundMe campaign hopes to raise $235,000 by the end of March so the current proprietors of the Laurelthirst Public House—Nick Zerr, Brandon Logan, Bart Yanoch, and local musician Lewi Longmire—can purchase the building that's housed the venue since 1988.
The four partners bought the business from longtime owners David Lee and Steve Weiland in December 2016, with the plan to eventually buy the whole building sitting at the corner of Northeast Glisan and 30th. In the first five days they've raised about $16,800 of the $235,000 goal. They're offering various rewards for high-level donors that range from T-shirts, harp lessons, and getting your name on a plaque to private shows with local musicians like Kory Quinn and the Kung Pao Chickens.
According to Longmire, if they're unable to raise the entire downpayment through crowdfunding by March 31, they might look to make up the difference with the help of an outside investor. But he says that's a last resort: "It's just not ideal, as it'd add someone to the mix that may want a return on their investment, while the reward for myself and the partners is in being able to just keep the pub running for the community for the rest of our lives."
The Laurelthirst is Portland's oldest independent music venue, and regularly hosts local folk, bluegrass, roots, and Americana musicians, including legendary outsider folksinger Michael Hurley, who frequently performs there with his band the Croakers. There are 16 concerts each week, including free daily happy hour shows. Its longevity is impressive, especially given the city's development and shuttering of beloved establishments in recent years.
"It is these new owners’ goal to preserve and promote what the Laurelthirst has provided for so many years, an establishment committed to the encouragement of the creation and production of live music for Portland," they write on the GoFundMe page. "We want nothing more than to ensure the existence of the Laurelthirst for the community of musicians and patrons who have created and supported one of the most magical places in Portland, or across the country, for the foreseeable future."