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Monday, February 25, 2008
Sweet, but not too sweet, Virginia
Tonight the original location of the Virginia Cafe on SW Park is slated to go dark forever. Possibly as I type these words, the owners are/will be stagging a ceremonial "bar stool crawl" from the old spot to the new one on SW 10th.
I made it down there on Saturday night for one last gin and tonic. Half of the booths were torn out and the second level loft was all but bare. Most, if not all, of the memorabilia and decor was removed from the walls and the area over the bar. The Virginia will, of course, live on but it was sad to see a locale with that much history breathing its last breaths. I was never a regular but I harbor enough warm memories of this nearly century-old boozehole to shed a tear for its passing.
What made the original Virginia Cafe so great was that it was a perfect combination of classy and sleazy; dank but not too dank. It's the closet I've come to a bar in Portland along the lines of Cheers. A sentence like that might make the owners and those more familiar with the Virginia cringe but I mean it as a compliment (or maybe the Veritable Quandary would be a more apt nomination?). The layout and ambiance were dead on for a downtown bar and the location was perfect. It wasn't the sort of place you'd bring a first date but it was always there when you needed to kill time before a movie or a place to take a friend from out of town you're not sure could handle a place like the Shanghai Tunnel. The owners seem bent on recreating the experience on SW 10th so here's hoping only the Virginia's address will change.
I felt the need to forever preserve this bit of graffiti in mens room. You're welcome, internet.
I also wonder if anyone's going to salvage the old Zell Bros clock next door before the block is torn down. At the very least, it would look great over someone's mantle.