Changes Afoot for Gemini Lounge?

Gemini Lounge

Gemini Lounge

In the merry-go-round that is the Foster bar scene, it appears Gemini Lounge may be the next in line for a change. Or at least that’s what a recent liquor license application would suggest.

Backing up for a moment, though, let’s look at the last handful of years in the area.

Gemini was a welcome addition four years ago, and somewhat of a stabilizing presence when it replaced Lizards Bar and Grill. But in short succession before that, it was also Brown’s and then Reno’s (or Reno’s, and then Brown’s…not that it matters).

Across the street? Bob and Alice’s was a mainstay, albeit a divey and decidedly “old man” bar. (There’s always a place for that, right?) But after years of slow business and a series of armed robberies, Bob and Alice’s made way for Starday Tavern, which brought in live music and a changing clientele, but not a ton of new business. It also proved difficult to focus on for the owner, who also owns and operates Duff’s Garage. A couple short years later, Starday has been sold. Local resident, Justin Amrine, takes over as Starday’s new owner this Wednesday, hopefully bringing a more stable future to the space.

Further up the street, Amor Lounge, with their cheap gyros, belly dancing, house-made hummus and lottery machines, gave way to Knucklheads a few years ago. For those new to the neighborhood, Knuckleheads was a biker bar in every sense of the word. It stood where you all now know Bar Maven. Like we said, merry-go-round. That appears to be stopping with Bar Maven, though, as the bar and sidewalk seating seem close-to-filled more often than not.

With all the comings and goings, it makes O’Malley’s and Slingshot that much better. And for that matter, gives more appreciation to, say, a Red’s or Foster Gardens.

IMG_2165But back to Gemini Lounge…

What seemed like one of Foster’s busiest bars just a few months ago—with a steady stream of live music, dj’s, drink specials, house-made chips, and a constant landing spot for bachelorette parties and Bear Pub Crawls—Gemini has taken a turn. Or so it seems. Live music is no longer; hours of operation have changed; some nights, doors are closed all together. We thought something was up. And then we came across a recent liquor license application that would suggest, at the very least, a name change is in the works. Perhaps an ownership change, too?

Enter Double Treble…

Screen shot 2015-06-26 at 3.56.41 PM* Again, we’re just taking a stab in the dark here, and only noting it because of other recent changes in the local bar scene (not too late for an “RIP Smokey’s”). And also maybe (probably?) because it’s a slow blogging day.

As for Double Treble, the liquor license application alone does not indicate an ownership change. Rather, it simply shows a change in tradename, in which case we’ll look forward to a longer run of house-made chips, good drinks and a loungey vibe. But if not, perhaps a new era begins.

To be continued…

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Meet Your Neighbor: Traci Hildner, from Lucky Larder

Next in our profile series of “Foster Folk” is Traci Hildner, a local resident with an aspiring business plan to educate and preserve. Literally. As part of her business, Lucky Larder, Traci teaches classes on caning and food preservation, many of which can be attended at the Portland Mercado’s Micro Mercantes kitchen. For those who have access to fresh fruit and veggies (whether grown, picked, or gifted), thanks to Lucky Larder, you now can learn how to make that harvest last beyond the summer and fall months. Below we get to know Traci and Lucky Larder.
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LuckyLarderTraci1) Who are you and what is a Lucky Larder?
I am a 14-year resident of FoPo; a small business owner; a creative, improvisational cook; a caterer of casual events; and an ambitious gardener. (My husband and I recently ripped out our entire front lawn in favor of expanding our vegetable and herb garden.) I also spend a fair share of my time camping, rafting, dancing and exploring the many glorious neighborhoods of Portland. The Lucky Larder exists to help people preserve fruits and vegetables. We do this in a variety of ways, including hands-on classes, private lessons and demonstrations for those who want to learn, as well as drop-off/pick-up services for those who don’t have the time or desire to do it themselves. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term, as I’m learning many are, a larder is an old school word for pantry – originating back in the days before refrigeration, when people had to find other methods of making their perishable foods last.)

2) How did Lucky Larder come to be?
I’ve spent most of the past 15 years as a teacher in a public alternative high school, but cooking, growing, learning about, experimenting with, and (let’s be honest) eating good food have been my favorite hobbies. When it came time to try out a new career, I knew I wanted to do something food-related. Food preservation really appeals to the academic in me. The science involved is super important so that the final product both honors the original quality of the produce and is safe to consume over time.

3) You teach classes at the Portland Mercado. Has the market been as glorious to you (and your classes) as it’s been for those who shop and eat there?
LuckyLarderThe Micro Mercantes Kitchen in the Portland Mercado has been a fabulous venue for launching my business. All of the other business owners I’ve met there have been friendly, welcoming and very supportive of one another, and the kitchen’s manager (Caitlin) is really helpful and a great resource for new business owners. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better starting place – and it’s right here in my favorite neighborhood.

4) You live in the neighborhood and now run a business in the hood, too. What are your three favorite things about Foster and its environs?
The casual, funky, not-too-polished personality of the Foster neighborhoods. The many fantastic small, independent businesses – both those that have been holding down the fort for a while (like Tortalandia, Meticon, Bar Carlo, Da’Hui) and the newbies bringing fresh faces to Foster (like the collections at Foster Row and the Portland Mercado). The people!

6) Finally, Foster is a funny place. Strip clubs meet tire shops meet fancy bottle shops meet dive bars, vintage clothing and record stores. And everything in between, of course. Is there a song, movie, celebrity or superhero that you think best characterizes the neighborhood?
Screen shot 2015-06-29 at 7.33.39 AMOh my gosh… I love this question, but it’s so hard to answer. So many possibilities! Today I’m going to vote for “Rudie Can’t Fail” by The Clash. Just like Foster, it’s a perfect combination of classic and punk, a little loud, a bit rebellious (in the best way) and just rough enough around the edges to keep it interesting. And lyrics like “born for a purpose” and “can’t fail” make me think of Foster’s continuing growth; I think we’re transitioning from simply being the fastest-route-between-two-points to a neighborhood where people want to stop and explore.
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We dig the “Rudy Can’t Fail” breakdown. Good call.

As for the Lucky Larder, don’t forget to support your local businesses, folks. Schedule a class, get to know your canning methods, and see your fruits and veggies last that much longer.

Much thanks to Traci for sharing with us.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

God damn, this weather. Sure, it feels nice for about two hours in the morning (if you wake up at dawn) and a couple at night (if you’re still up around midnight). But the other 14 hours are rough. Unless you like to be tortured…then the next two weeks are perfect for you. As always, find your favorite cooled or shaded or patio-ed spot to hydrate with a cold…oh, wait…

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– Speaking of  (de)hydrating with a cold beer or cocktail, don’t forget to open your minds to Starday Tavern if you haven’t already. If you’re late to the game, it’s ok, new ownership plans to keep its live music offerings…so you didn’t miss out much over the last year and a half (other than not being witness to the transition from Bob and Alice’s to the latest Slingshot MondaysStarday incarnation). You can read more about the (July 1) ownership change: here.

– And just when we get the refreshing news that music on Foster won’t be a thing of the past after all, we hear that Slingshot will have a DJ every Monday spinning “outlaw country” and the like. For Service Industry Night, from 10p – 2am, get your fix of “countrypolitan, honky tonk, & outlaw country…” Oh, and Green Noise Records plans their first live in-store show on July 4 (more on that later). See, music, y’all. Music.

– I didn’t know there were any more local publications that hadn’t yet been to or written about the Portland Mercado. Alas, there was one: Portland Monthly lists “5 Reasons to Check Out the New Portland Mercado.” Not that you needed any more reasons, but I suppose it’s a good reminder. And the continued positive press is encouraging.

– And speaking of local publications, the Willamette Week states that the World Famous Cannabis Cafe will be opening its location somewhere on Foster. No word where or when.

– Weekend entertainment:
Starday Tavern- Win Schultz and friends and The Tipsy Ramblers, Friday; We Are Toads, Saturday
O’Malley’s- Wehrmacht, P.R.O.P.L.E.M.S., Die Nasty and Burien, Friday at 9, $5 cover
FoPo Tavern- Ferociously Funny Fridays (stand-up comedy), 9pm
Performance Works NW- Icons by Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater, spans Friday, Saturday and Sunday
NWIPA- Art opening for Emily Kosta, Saturday at 6pm

Have a good weekend, y’all. Be cool, be safe.

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Starday Tavern Gets New Owner, Music Stays

For those of you who haven’t made it in to Starday Tavern under current ownership, bummer for you. You probably never saw it as Bob and Alice’s either, I suppose. Well, in regards to the latter, you’re probably better off. (Though, I would say you missed a bit of Foster history.) Starday

As for Starday currently, they’ve been hosting live music three or four nights a week for well over a year now. And a lot of it good, too. Starday’s owner happens to own Duff’s Garage, as well, so his pedigree of booking good music is well known. He decided a few months ago to keep those talents at Duff’s, however, and put Starday on the market. Our initial thought: it would be the day the music died on Foster.

See, the Bob White Theatre is no more (at least as we know it); Gemini Lounge stopped hosting a mostly-every-weekend lineup of DJs and musicians months ago; and Torta-landia gave up the live music thing back in 2014. Not that those are heavy-hitting music venues—and we still have O’Malley’s to rely on for good metal, rock, punk and, now, the occasional reggae show, as well as Bar Carlo’s sometimes-stab at live jazz—but the cumulative effect of all those was a fairly vibrant music scene on Foster. IMG_2205

Fear not, elements are still there: the aforementioned O’Malley’s; Hallowed Halls just set up their recording studio in the neighborhood; Foster Row hosts the occasional band at their events; Devil’s Point does Stripperaoke; and we have that violin-playing chicken that inhabits Laurelwood Park (I kid, I kid…sort of). But Starday was the most consistent source of live music. Losing that would have been a big blow.

The music stays, though.

That’s what we’ve heard from new owner, Justin Amrine, who officially takes over Starday on Wednesday. He and his wife, Shannon, plan to keep live music as a regular part of the bar’s offering. The only difference is that it won’t be restricted (mostly) to Americana (i.e. folk, country, rockabilly), as was the former venue. They plan to mix up the sounds a bit and offer a larger variety of music. And that’s good—one thing Starday was never able to do under former ownership was appeal to a variety of local bar-goers.

Justin and Shannon might be able to do that. And not just with the music. They also plan to broaden the menu a little bit, (hopefully) with the assistance of local food vendors. The hours will be adjusted, too, for occasional morning openings on weekends. (Though, that will coincide mostly with football season, as they plan to add more TVs on the walls for the NCAA and NFL fans.)

One more note on the new owners. They are local to the neighborhood and, at least when talking to Justin, seem keyed in to what the vibe is on Foster. They want it to be a neighborhood bar and seem open to feedback, so pop in next week when they take the reins.

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Seen in FoPo

Our alleyway system can be a blessing and a curse. Both for obvious reasons. One thing they always provide, though, are hidden gems like this—rare finds that probably mostly get overlooked, but probably mostly add some quirkiness to your jungle foraging, too.
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We Heart Retro

Well, we heart I Heart Retro….
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Check ’em out…
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We did, and it’s a radder-than-rad little store…
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Actually, not little at all…
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Quite big. And lots and lots of stuff to peruse, buy, or fantasize about buying…
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Do that: buy, peruse or fantasize. But definitely check ’em out…
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Profile coming soon….

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