THE DIVEY, THE FILTHY, THE GLORIOUS KENTON CLUB

This is a good old standby bar for North Portland residents. Homey and comfortable and with the exception of the new patio relatively unchanged in decades. Cheap drinks and the usual bar fare keep the patrons happy (or at least less grumbly).
And even better, now you can find Smoky Mountain BBQ inside the club! Featuring: pulled pork, brisket, meatloaf, ribs, catfish and a slew of sides (some are even vegan if you’re into that sort of thing).

Portland, OR — The memories of film goddess Raquel Welch’s days in the Kenton Club have faded, but posters for the movie “Kansas City Bomber” still hang on the walls, looking as fresh as yesterday. The film, shot at the Expo Center and The Kenton Club, came out about 40 years ago in 1972.

Today, Doreen and Daryl Waitt own the club. “We’ve lived in this neighborhood 18 years,” Doreen observes, “and we kept saying we need to invest in the neighborhood.”

Doreen says that some of the regular customers tell her that they’ve been patronizing the Kenton Club — also known as the World Famous Kenton Club — for 40 years.

kenton1200Today the club has matured into just the right feel — as comfy as a deep cushioned living room chair. The wooden bar has gained warmth and polish from decades of friendly elbows. Even a teetotaller would feel at home here.

Bands enjoy playing here too. Daryl attributes the dark redwood walls as one of the reasons that music sounds so good in the club.

Those not in the mood for a little friendly political jaw-boning can work out the day’s frustrations on the pool table, two pinball machines, electronic games and video lottery machines. For those looking for tournaments, the Kenton Club offers them in both cribbage and nine-ball styles.

After a warm summer day, outdoor types can now find a clean, laid-back patio where they can cool off. Set behind the building, the patio reduces traffic noises and lowers stress.

Those in need of a smoke can light up out back.

Patio evening hours run until 10:00 pm weekdays to 11:00 pm weekends. A sign requests, “Quiet Voices Please — Respect The Neighbors.” Did we mention Kenton Club is a real neighborhood institution?

In parking-challenged Portland, the Kenton Club provides a welcome benefit in the form of off-street parking.

DSC_3835smallIn October, 2006 Doreen and Daryl Waitt purchased the Kenton Club. Immediately they began adding their own subtle touches, but in a way faithful to the 1947 origin of the bar.

In early 2011, the Waitts realized that they needed funding to make improvements and clear up some legal paper work.

A bank officer at Albina Community Bank suggested that they talk to Terry Brandt at Albina Opportunities Corporation. Doreen says that Brandt was “wonderful” in providing help clearing up titles and other details. In a few months they had the Kenton Club in better shape than ever.

AOC, a nonprofit lending organization, has a mission to provide financing to small business with a successful history. AOC specializes in loans to minority and female owners.

A different crowd, people from all over Portland, show up for live music scheduled for four or five nights per week. That music varies from night to night.

Every Tuesday is “Countryland,” featuring music from local or traveling bands. The selections range from pure country & western to rockabilly.

maxresdefaultAnother favorite is classic rock. Now and then punk and metallic bands mount the stage in the back of the house with cutting edge sounds. Fans will want to check out the groups playing country rock, psychedelic rock, classic metal, punk and something called Experimental Americana.

A large dance floor offers enough room for dancers to show their fancy moves. Or, if you prefer, lose yourself in a dark corner of the floor for a little more intimate slow dancing.

The best thing about the Kenton Club is the cover charge — or the lack of one. There is no entry fee for anyone even on nights when the bands play.

However, there are no rules saying adults can’t enjoy a drink or two.
For schedules of upcoming performers, visit The Kenton Club’s website.

No band tonight? No problem. Bring a few coins to feed the juke box.

If sports are your ticket, the king-size wall screen will put you in sideline seats as Ducks, Beavers and others fight for glory.

4706486In addition to the hard drinks, the Kenton Club features five micro-brews on tap. That number will soon expand when Daryl adds his own brews to the list. At the moment, he envisions a lager and a pale ale. If freshness counts, you can’t do better when the brewing takes place on the premises.

A newly remodeled liquor shelf filled with spirits— designed to look as if it came from The Kenton Club’s origin in 1947 — holds about any powerhouse libation you might want to sample.

The Monday-Friday afternoon happy hours bring specials on beers and well drinks into play.

One on-line reviewer, identifying herself as a Spanish coffee expert, claimed, “I am a connoisseur of Spanish coffees and I think the Kenton Club makes one of the best.”

The club’s “stuffed burgers” offer combos such as bacon and bleu cheese, mushroom and provolone, or jalapeño and jack cheese. Flame grilled gardenburgers will appeal to vegetarians or those counting calories.

The Kenton Club serves breakfast from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm Saturday and Sunday.

Although you won’t likely find Raquel Welch and a camera crew on the premises, you can find a lot of tradition — and that’s something worth searching for.