Dry days are over for PCMH

Booze or bust
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  January 28, 2009

090130_mug_main
It's an all-too-common scene here in Portland: A local music venue is ready to rock, but liquor inspectors (or fire inspectors, or some kind of inspectors) haven't yet signed some important piece of paperwork.

So learned the Port City Music Hall, the new 600+ capacity venue on Congress Street that has the local music scene abuzz. The grand opening show, scheduled for January 17, had to be postponed until January 24 because, yes, there was no liquor license yet — and things weren't looking good for that January 24 date either.

As a January 22 Sonic Bids showcase night approached, there was still no license. "We couldn't keep canceling because of no alcohol," says Ceci Gibson, the venue's publicist. "It was chem free ... people were buying their three-dollar bottles of water and leaving five-dollar tips because they felt sorry for us, but they were supporting the bartenders regardless."

That no-booze Thursday show was enough of a wake-up call, however, that owner Rob Evon stepped up his efforts. Frustrated by a difference of opinion between his legal team and the state liquor inspectors, he called up state senator Justin Alfond and asked for help. "We're fighting to get a Class 1 Auditorium license," says Evon, "which would allow 18+ events with designated service areas for drinkers." As the PCMH reads the law, they function as an auditorium and should be licensed like one: "People pay a fee to come see music, speech, dance, or theater," Evon explains. "The law doesn't say anything about what it's supposed to look like."

However, when the state liquor inspector (Evon says city officials have been incredibly supportive) showed up to check out the venue, he said, "'This doesn't look like an auditorium,'" Evon reports. Thus the delay and the eventual call to Alfond. Good news: "On Friday, I spent multiple hours working with a state liquor inspector to forge a solution," Alfond wrote in an e-mail to the Phoenix, "which is to get Port City Music Hall a temporary Class A lounge liquor license." He succeeded Saturday, in time for the rescheduled "grand opening" show to have booze. The bad news? The Class A license means no 18+ crowd, which is a major part of PCMH's plan.

"The 18+ crowd helps with a key component of our business," says Evon, "which is box office ticket sales, and in order for us to bring through these national artists, we need to be able to offer them 18+ events," such as the upcoming show by radio rockers OK Go.

But there's a bigger reason for the 18+ designation. "That demographic is our future customers," Evon says. Alfond agrees: "Portland lacks sufficient venues open to the 18+ demographic; I will continue to help the owners work with state officials to obtain an Auditorium License."

  Topics: News Features , Entertainment, Nightlife, OK Go,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE