If you haven’t heard of McMenamins, you’re really missing out! The northwest-based family-owned chain of breweries, pubs, historical sites, theaters, hotels, and music venues has become a staple of the Pacific Northwest in recent years. With 62 locations in Washington and Oregon, the chain is easily accessible and well worth the stop whenever traveling nearby.
The Big Picture
Many of McMenamins establishments are situated in rehabilitated historical buildings, making each location feel unique and giving them their own distinct atmosphere. While this remains among the most fascinating aspects of their businesses, each also showcases an eclectic art and furniture style that connects all the locations. Nine of their businesses are on the National Register of Historic Places, a list of structures deemed worthy of preservation by the federal government due to their historical significance.
While the company was officially founded in 1983, Portland brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin had been dabbling in the idea of opening restaurants and breweries for nearly a decade beforehand. The brothers purchased a building that had been serving Portland dockworkers since 1953 and opened the Produce Row Café in 1974. While not an official McMenamins establishment, the former breakfast café became a landmark establishment on the inner east side.
The brothers would go on to sell “The Row” to its employees in 1978, and though it has changed ownership several times throughout the years, you can still visit the Café and enjoy a drink at 204 Oak Street in inner-Southeast Portland.
Seven years after selling the Produce Row Café, the McMenamin brothers opened Oregon’s first brewpub and theater pub on the site of a former Swedish Evangelical Church in northwest Portland. The theater shows mostly arthouse films and is known for its variety of food and beverage options. This establishment has the honor of being the first McMenamins site in Oregon and is still very popular today. It is located at 1624 NW Glisan Street.
After the mission’s success, the brothers would continue to acquire historical buildings to restore and transform into microbreweries. They would go on to expand into the hospitality industry with the purchase of the 74-acre Multnomah County Poor Farm, on which they began extensive renovations and restorations. Today, this location is known as McMenamins Edgefield, and offers restaurants, pubs, a gold course, gardens, soaking pools, movie theaters, and the largest outdoor concert venue in Portland, hosting international music acts on a regular basis. Edgefield is such an impressive venue that it truly deserves a future feature as a destination article on this site, so stay posted for that!
Today you can find McMenamins all throughout the Pacific Northwest. Each unique location has something different to offer from the rest, so it’s always worth stopping at a new pub, restaurant, or hotel. From the slopes of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle to the sandy beaches of Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast, there is almost always one of these local-favorite hotspots near you. Enjoy!