Old Town's about to be bereft of nightly karaoke for the first time in nearly 15 years.
The Boiler Room, one of the neighborhood's most stalwart enterprises—and hands-down among the city's best karaoke spots—is going to shut its doors September 20, almost exactly 15 years after it opened its doors, the bar announced on Facebook this evening.
And it's leaving for a textbook reason in boom-time Portland: A new owner has decided it doesn't want the karaoke mainstay around, and is simply declining to renew the lease. Not long ago, the building that houses the Boiler Room, at 228 NW Davis, was purchased by a San Francisco based real estate group, Swift Real Estate Partners, city records show.
"The Boiler Room’s last night will be September 20th," the bar's former general manager, Mike Reed, posted on Facebook tonight. "Not because of problems or city regulators, not because of customer service issues, fights, poor management, or even lack of revenue. The Boiler Room is closing because apparently the new Californian investment group / new landlord projects more revenue with a potential 'Starbucks' type of business or another daytime use space in the corner unit."
Full disclosure: I was a KJ at the Boiler Room for five years, and I will miss this bar. It can be insufferable on a busy weekend, but it has been one of the friendliest, most welcoming, and best-sounding spots to sing in town since well before I lived here. Entire generations of Portland comics sharpened their material at its Monday night open mic nights—among the longest running on the West Coast. It was a karaoke-dork-filled satellite of harmony in Old Town before the neighborhood became the "entertainment district" it's labeled as today.
And it is still profitable, and on fine terms with city officials (the city's liquor licensing program coordinator, Mike Boyer, was among the many people offering condolences this evening). According to Reed, the property's new owners only revealed this week that there wouldn't be an option to renew the bar's lease.
"Up until a week ago," Reed said tonight, "we thought we were going to be open 20 more years here."