Where: LIKEWISE, 3564 SE Hawthorne Blvd., SE Portland.
When you’re mostly-unemployed, you find yourself pounding pavement a lot.
Sidewalks meld together, the curbs all start to look alike, and your eyes only really respond to flashes of neon, streetlights, and window displays of things you’d love to be able to afford one day.
The only things that stir you up are potential places to look for work- or places to make you feel a little better about not having it.
In short, it’s a wonderful excuse to go exploring- and I was in exactly such a state clomping down Hawthorne Boulevard a year or so ago.
Hawthorne Boulevard is a local strip comprised of bars, restaurants dedicated to various cuisines and budgets, and intriguing shops varying from the mundane stationery to exotica. The street is rife with nightlife venues- a barcade (Quarterworld), a kitschy sci-fi bar from the 50s (the Space Room), and a number of restaurants, food carts and stands ready to offer delicious boozemops for when you just need SOMETHING to get you home.
This considered, the presence of LIKEWISE is not remarkable.
It’s really the ONLY thing about LIKEWISE that is not remarkable.
Peeking through the front window, I saw a long narrow barroom. Pinned up on the spartan white walls was sheet after sheet of engineer’s drafting paper. At the far end of the room, behind the five-seat bar and a beer fountain lined in bowling trophy figures, Nancy- co-owner with her partner Adam- was smiling and gesturing me in.
The day I first walked in, the project was all Nan’s work- “Tell me something I don’t know,” and then draw or explain it in detail on the draft paper. It gets hung up, and everyone who walks in gets to learn something new. After a beer and a moment’s thought, I related an insight about writing poetry that one of my old high-school teachers, Peter Murphy, had taught me-
“If you only write when the mood strikes you, or you only write about your feelings, you will stop writing when you are 30 and never pick up a pen again. You will simply run out of feelings to write about. You either need to write about something else, or start feeling things you never did before.”
It qualified, and went up on the wall- and I found a new favorite bar.
For food, they have a selection of frozen pizzas which they make no secret of purchasing from the supermarket across the street- but write up on a menu with florid language appropriate to a wine list. If frozen pizza and mixed nuts aren’t your culinary vibe, there are no shortage of take-out and delivery restaurants nearby- LIKEWISE has an open food policy, and permits you to bring in (or have delivered right to the bar) any food you like.
Most amusingly- especially to newcomers as yet unfamiliar with the owner’s sense of humor- is the “Experiences” menu. The Experiences vary in price from $20 to $700. I don’t want to spoil the discovery for you when you swing by, so I’ll just say that the following: the experiences only change when someone buys one, they are all completely safe and legal- and someone has already bought the $700 one.
Perhaps as a testament to this community, when LIKEWISE was facing financial difficulties, Adam and Nancy made a bold move: they started a membership drive.
As I write this, I am sitting in LIKEWISE again- halfway down the long central table amid candles in beer glasses. On the wall across from me is a series of photos of people sleeping in the beds of pickup trucks. Adam has just switched on the projector, and is playing the final episodes of the TV show “Cheers.” A group of friends is by the window, chatting loudly, and other couples are split off throughout the spartan, yet cozy little bar. I’m one Wickle and half a cerveza in. Nan and Adam are both tending bar tonight. It’s busy, but not crowded- exactly how they like it.
Me too, for that matter.
Much like the fictional “Cheers,” I like LIKEWISE- a place where everybody knows my name.
When To Go: