Every startup community has a few iconic meeting spots. Places where the community seems to naturally aggregate and gather. And where you’re more likely than not to see familiar faces or collections of coworkers from startups in the area. In Portland, we were lucky to have a few of these spots.
Back in the day, it was the Green Dragon. Then Caffe Umbria in the Pearl. Or Teardrop. More recently, Cup and Bar on the Eastside. A couple locations of Tilt. But through it all, there was one quintessential happy hour spot that eclipsed all of the others.
“Want to meet at Bailey’s?” was a familiar refrain. And one that preceded any number of cofounder relationships, pitches to VCs, conversations with journalists, and startup celebrations. I won’t even hazard a guess how many startup deals were proposed and closed in that place.
There was a startup appeal to Bailey’s, to be sure. Seemingly carved out of the side of building near the gritty corner of Burnside and Broadway, the cramped and noisy alleyway taproom glowed with screens that introduced folks to any number of new beers and ciders. And helped customers assess the popularity of particular beverages with the tap meters that showed them exactly how much of a certain keg remained.
Good pubs do so much. Beyond supporting local breweries and creating excitement for the beers they serve, they can become focal points and community gathering spaces. People don’t just go to good pubs for beer, they begin to inhabit them. The outpouring of love for Bailey’s on social media has been emotional and intense, and stands as a testament to what Geoff created. Like any good pub, Bailey’s was unique. The location, the ambiance, the faces—everything about it. And as such it is irreplaceable.
The Portland startup community was most definitely a fond inhabitant of Bailey’s, year after year. But unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Bailey’s Taproom is no more. Yet another victim of this worldwide crisis. But not one that will easily be forgotten.