Friday, November 4, 2011

Changes Coming to Captain Ankeny's

When I first arrived in Portland in 2003, Captain Ankeny's Well at SW 3rd and Ash had a reputation as one of the best beer bars in its part of town.  Even in 2011, its beer selection is respectable, twenty decent taps from around the Northwest, always including a few seasonals from the likes of  Deschutes or Full Sail.  But our idea of "best beer bar" has been changed in recent years by new places like Bailey's Taproom, the Green Dragon, and Apex, so Captain Ankeny's has lost some of its beer appeal.  Another thing that has changed is Portland's concept of cheap food.  Ankeny's trade in pizza slices and sandwiches has been hammered by all the food carts in that end of downtown -- case in point, the Big Ass Sandwiches cart directly across the street.

Business has been tough, and so it is that Ankeny's will soon go under the knife for a remodel.  Its focus will shift from beer-and-cheap-eats to a more nightlife-oriented entertainment venue.  Weekday lunches are out, and a new split-level floorplan will allow room for a couple of stages and smaller bar areas, which probably means a smaller, more mainstream beer selection.  A new name is part of the rebranding, but I haven't yet heard what that name will be.  If you were ever a fan of Captain Ankeny's Well, drop in soon for a last pint.

Dave coaxed me over there last week for lunch.  For years it was his regular Friday lunch spot, but changing circumstances -- kids mostly -- pretty much broke him of the habit.  Several years ago he did a project for Ankeny's, building the wooden base for a display of old tap handles.  It's worth a trip to the pub just to see that museum piece before the remodel takes it out -- there's lots of history there.  Some of the handles are from defunct breweries like Grant's, Star, Umpqua, Thomas Kemper, Yamhill... well, I shouldn't belabor the point.  Others tout discontinued beers that were before my time:  Bridgeport Coho Pacific, Widmer Blonde, Full Sail Black Lager (hmm...).  Still others are so obscure that the Google couldn't help me figure out who brewed them:  anyone know who made beers called Sauvie Island Pale Ale or Chinook Coffee?

11 comments:

  1. strange yet interesting post. is the pizza good?

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  2. You mean it's actually a Portland Pub that sells Northwest beers and cheap food?! Wow! I am so surprised, cause there shouldn't be any local competition! ;-)

    Now, they're going to convert to a Music Themed nightclub? In a area that is already frocked with cheap dive nightclubs? Well... Let me be the first say, "Get a better business plan."

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  3. Not sure about Chinook Coffe, but Sauvie Island Pale Ale was brewed by Multnomah Brewing Co.

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  4. @GoodbyeOhio: Is the pizza good? About to be a moot point, but it's not seriouseats, it's cheap slices.

    @Hopmonster: Thanks!

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  5. @GoodbyeOhio: The pizza and calzones are awesome...I personally stay away from the individual slices, though. The menu won't change, but lunch hours will be limited to Friday-Saturday (I think). Jon has been at the pizza game longer than the pub game, doing business at Portland Saturday Market as Dough Traders Pizza.

    @Anon: I'm with you, but Bill strategically and respectfully left out a few key elements of the new scheme...I'm not talking either, but I think the new iteration will net more business than the current one.

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  6. If people want pizza, they get pizza. If people want tacos, they get tacos. If people want sandwiches, they get sandwiches. Food carts have nothing to do with slow restaurant business. Competition is natural in a free market. It's a crap economy and everyone is struggling. Make good food and people will come back for it. Bars make their money on booze, anyways.

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  7. @AnonYmos: I love the food carts...that said, the owner of Capt. Ankeny's said his overall profits were down 20-25%, while the bathroom expenses had gone up by 20%. Carts provide the fuel, but have no means to handle the exhaust.

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  8. AnonYmos, competition is normal and good, and I like food carts. But it's facetious to say that they have nothing to do with slow restaurant business. They have much lower costs across the board -- rent, payroll, maintenance, security, you name it.

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  9. Carts probably do have lower overhead, but they also aren't allowed to sell beer/booze, don't have seating, bathrooms, running water, really, nothing too appealing in the cold months. If you follow Food Carts Portland at all, you'll see carts shutting down every day due to lack of business. My point being everyone is hurting because of the state of the economy & there's not one thing to blame for that.

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  10. Haha, are you serious? Don't blame other's success for your short-comings. There's a reason hungry (and thirsty) people choose one esablishment over another. So instead of whining about it, why don't you figure out how to rise to the occasion and grow your clientele? ... Just some food for thought.

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  11. Kind of sad to see. I'm sure the $3 Wednesday night pints of Full Sail will be gone. They certainly could use a makeover, but I don't think that area needs any more music themed nightclubs.

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