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Watering Holes

FOOD AND SPIRITS

 

A Profile of Alcohol and Drinking Establishments in the Hollywood District

 

By

Ryan Klobas

 

The Hollywood District, then called Rose City, was established in the early 1900s. At that time Portland's business district was concentrated along the west bank of the Willamette River. Soon businesses started moving eastward along Sandy Boulevard. Absent from this business movement was the tavern, which in those days was called a beer parlor. If a person wanted a cold beer one would need to cross the river to find a saloon.

By 1910 a movement to outlaw the production and sale of alcoholic beverages was gaining steam across the country, especially in Oregon. In 1914, the state of Oregon voted in favor of the prohibition of alcohol. This change in attitude toward the consumption of alcohol was four years ahead of the nationwide prohibition of alcohol in 1918.

The era of prohibition in the United States begins in 1918 and Portland enters the era of the speakeasy. A speakeasy was a secret establishment or meeting place where, if you knew the password, a person could enter and purchase illegal alcohol. Of course, the illegal production of alcohol called "bootlegging" also increased to meet the demand of the outlawed brews. In the late 1920s the federal government tired of the losing battle against the illegal production, sale and consumption of alcohol. In 1933 the government of the United States repeals prohibition and beer parlors are once again established in the Portland area.

Four years would pass until the Hollywood District would have its first tavern.  Pal's Shanty opened in 1937 at the southwest corner of 47th and Sandy Boulevard. At the site of the former Elite Theater, directly adjacent to the original location, Pal's is still open for business and has remained an eating and drinking establishment in he Hollywood District for over sixty years.

In Oregon, between 1933 and the late 1950s, only beer could be sold in drinking establishments. When the Pagoda Restaurant opened in 1940, this was the first "bottle club" in the Hollywood District.  Additional bottle clubs in the Hollywood area included The Mandarin. A bottle club was a place where a person would bring in their own bottle of alcohol and the club bartender would provide the mix and serve drinks to club members.  Club members would also have space behind the counter where they locked away their unfinished bottle.  The bottle club dissolved with the adoption of legislation that allowed businesses to sell alcohol by the glass.

Another long time establishment selling alcohol is Sam's Hollywood Billiards. A world class pool hall, Sam opened his establishment in 1962. Sam served beer until 1972 when his daughter, Valerie Gulacy, the current owner, added cocktails to the drink menu. 

Although all of the current drinking establishments in the Hollywood District offer a wide variety of foods, many of these restaurants depend on the sale of alcohol as their primary source of income. Alcohol is a part of American culture and is certainly an important part of revenue in the restaurant business.

Sam’s daughter, Valerie Gulacy, is the current owner.  Sam’s has a full bar and also serves breakfast and lunch.

Sam and his wife Shirley Hosted National Tournaments in their world class pool hall. They are pictured here with pool legend, Jimmy Caras.

Pal’s Shanty was the fist tavern in Hollywood and is still open today.

Sam Chapman, proprietor, opened Sam’s Hollywood Billiards in 1962.  The pool hall is still located at 1845 NE 41st.

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