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of Bridgeport Brewing Company and Public House - Portland, OR
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"For what it's worth, I was in Portland last weekend and walked
over to the brewery to see what the state of the renovation was.
There were people walking in and out, so thinking it had opened
back up, I walked inside. The hostess stated that they were doing
practice runs for the new waitstaff and kitchen, but would open
officially on Feb 23rd, in the meantime I could go ahead and
have a look around.
They took one of the best spaces in the country to sit, drink beer,
read a paper, have casual conversation, etc., and absolutely,
completely, and utterly _ruined_ it.
I can not express how depressing it was.
For those not familiar with the Pearl District where it's located,
this section of Portland used to be a gritty industrial warehouse
area. Indeed, the Bridgeport Brewery is located in an old rope
factory. In the last few years however, the Pearl has been a
neighborhood in transition as it's been zoned for condo development.
The development is quite impressive. High density in an urban core
with lots of open space. Certainly a model that other cities should
emulate. However, Portland is a very artsy city (visit any
McMenamin's building for example). And with the arts and urban
environment comes a certain amount urban hip.
Bridgeport has decided to embrace the urban hip design elements
Gone are the wood tables with comfortable wood
chairs that you could sit in for hours. In are brushed steel
chest high tables, with backless black steel stools with 8"
square seats. Pray tell, how are we supposed to sit on that
and enjoy a beer or two or three?
Gone is the wood bar with 5 english beer engines
prominently displayed up front. In, is this god-awful ugly corrugated
steel bar with steel bartop and a tap assembly that looks like
the glycol chiller has gone stark raving mad (each tap array was
covered in a 1/4" layer of ice and frost). Gone is the notion that
there's a proper serving temperature for a Bridgeport ale. The
beer engines are now hidden behind the bar, and they've reduced the
number to 3. I couldn't find them at first, I had to ask if they
were still serving cask consitioned ale. A massive step backward.
Gone is the pretzel jar where you could get a little paper bowl of
pretzels for 10 cents on the honor system. In is a menu of trendy
food the same as you'll find at a dozen other Pearl district eateries.
Gone is the come-as-you-are, sit-whereever-you-want,
order-food-or-don't we don't care atmosphere. In are model-like
hostesses who greet you at the door and escort you to one of the
brushed steel, uncomfortable chair tables where you are expected
to order food, eat it, and get out.
Gone is the eclectic assortment of newspapers and bulletins you
could find to read and pass the time as you savored their excellent
cask selections. In, is the menu, as there's nothing else to read
and certainly no space or comfort on the tiny little tables? Did
I mention how much yet I hate those tables and chairs?
To stick the knife in and twist, to rub salt in the open wounds,
they've torn out portions of the second floor. In so doing they
had to cut and remove the massive wooden beams that ran across
the first floor ceiling. These were beams that reeked history,
beams that oozed character, beams cut from old growth wood, incredibly
valuable material. Gone. Discarded. All in the name of "upgrading"
the space so that it could be a carbon copy of every other
establishment in the Pearl district. Shameful. Completely and
The old Bridgeport was a truely unique space set in the context
of the historic building it occupied. A place where a beer lover
could come and be assured that the beer was served properly and that
the staff wouldn't rush you out. The new Bridgeport is a clone of
everything else in the Pearl. A place that turns it's back on the
history of it's building, and place that pushes commerce over beer,
a place that I now have no desire to return to."
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