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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Here's to you Mole Man...and PDX's next to last tiki bar
Phil Stanford concluded his column on Friday with a tribute to Portland bartender George Galik. George once poured drinks in the Temple Room at Hung Far Low's former location in Chinatown. He served me my first legal (*ahem*) drink in Portland after I turned 21. I knew him as the "Mole Man," because, to be honest, he resembled the character from The Simpsons. He spoke with a gruff, gravely voice and always demanded "doo IDS, doo" the few times I was lucky enough to catch him behind the bar. George didn't skip on the booze and was probably serving the night Humphrey Bogart supposedly strolled in there decades ago.
Here's what Stanford had to say:
Friends of legendary Chinatown bartender George Galik will assemble this evening at the Seven Stars Restaurant to remember his gruff but endearing ways...A Hungarian refugee who arrived in P-town in the '50s, Galik worked in such fabled venues as the Hoyt Hotel's Barbary Coast and Roaring 20s, Hung Far Low and, most recently, Suzie Wong's, where he worked a full shift Friday night before heading off to the crash that ended his life...He didn't like to recommend drinks to customers who couldn't make up their own minds for themselves, and he didn't do much to encourage over-the-bar camaraderie...When customers, noticing his thick Hungarian accent, asked him where he was from, he replied "Hillsboro." And as he once told a Rickashaw Charlie's patron who he thought was getting too chummy, "I'm not your friend, I'm your bartender." R.I.P., George.
Thanks for making this city more interesting and keeping it liquored up, George.
I regret to say I never once set foot in the Jasmine Tree. I always meant to but never managed to make it down there. A beloved tiki bar among PSU students and regulars, it was one of the last two remaining bars of its kind in the city. The Jasmine reportedly shut its doors forever last night. According to Willamette Week, the bar closed to make way for an extension of the MAX line through the bus mall.
Boooo, progress, boooo!
UPDATE: Or I might be wrong. For the immediate future, the Jasmine Tree's fate may or may not still be up in the air. I read WW's blurb again and it's pretty vague. I may have to put on my drinking shoes and launch a further investigation.