I met a coworker for a drink the other night at a place that he likes to ‘frequent’ and I have been to from time to time. It is in a less developed part of Portland (hard to find these days), a bit off of the beaten track–at least for me–but still quite charming.
What makes it charming?
That is a good question. It isn’t the exterior. There certainly isn’t anything charming about that. It isn’t the interior, either. Video poker, a crappy pool table, and beer posters are not my idea of charm.
What is it, then? I decided that it could only be one thing: Every time I have been in the place, every one has been so nice. Now, I am getting on in years, and going in to a place without getting some kind of attitude from too-cool-for-school types is becoming more and more rare. Especially in Portland. Especially in Southeast Portland.
Not just to me
The charm is not reserved for old men like me. I sat at the bar and watched as the employees were nice to every single patron-without exception.
What a difference
What a difference that can make. It can make up for so many things, Not that this place needs to make up for anything. Which brings me to my other point (did I have a first point?): How do they do it?
The restaurant consultant in me (something I find impossible to shut off) sits in that place and wonders how on earth they are able to stay open. They pour very generous drinks, charge less than the rest of the market, and don’t seem to sell a ton of food.
It doesn’t add up
So I am sitting on my bar stool trying to do the math and it always adds up to negative numbers. I count the seats, I guess–in an educated way–on the check average per customer, I see how long they are open, see how many people are in the place and it just doesn’t come out on the plus side. No matter how I do it.
It baffles me
By this point, I am sure they are dealing drugs out of the back room. That is the only way this can be making a profit. Maybe it is designed to lose money as a tax write off for some wealthy investor.
I am going to have to save most of this for another post, but it probably comes down to cost structure. They probably have owned the building for a long time, so there is no rent being paid. There usually are only 2 employees running things–that saves a lot of dough on labor–usually the biggest expense in most restaurants.
Guess I’ll never know
That’s ok. I am not sure who shot President Kennedy, either. There are some mysteries we are not meant to figure out. It doesn’t matter. It is enough for me just to know that there are still places out there that can still bring kindness, generosity, and value.
Way to go unnamed bar in North Portland–keep up the good work!