NEW ’SPACE AGE:Backspace, Portland’s longest-running all-ages music venue, is looking to move from its 10-year Old Town location.
Owner Eric Robison says “if all the stars align right,” the club will
move into the building currently occupied by the Conga Club, at 4923 NE
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., beginning Nov. 1. Robison says the move is
being spurred in part by a recent City Council decision requiring
nightclubs in pre-code buildings to add sprinkler systems. In addition
to already having sprinklers, the Northeast building has a 400-person
capacity—roughly double Backspace’s size—and a full bar. The club will
be “like a mini Crystal Ballroom” and remain all-ages, Robison says. “It’s a better, safer location for what we’re trying to do,”
he adds. Backspace will remain open as a coffee shop in its current
location at a reduced size, and there have been preliminary talks to
expand Ground Kontrol into the Backspace building, Robison says. UPDATE (9/18): According to Conga Club owner Roger Rumba, there have been no talks of selling his club to Robison, nor was he aware that Robison was looking into purchasing the space.
SUSHI SHAKEUP: It looks like executive chef Kaoru Ishii quietly left Hokusei Sushi
on Southeast Belmont Street over the summer. The veteran, who’s worked
in Japan sushi houses and at Los Angeles’ Matsuhisa, moved over to the
Pearl District’s Yama Sushiat the end of July. Heemoon Chae—known to regulars as Chef Scott—remains head chef at Yama. The sushi chefs at Hokusei are currently owner Cody Auger and chef Lance Dillard, formerly of Masu and Boxer Sushi.
GOING DIGITAL: Newberg’s 99W Drive-In has a new lease on life, thanks to a Honda promotion that will donate digital projectors to a handful of drive-in theaters across the country.
The 60-year-old movie house learned Sept. 15 that it had been selected
from about 100 theaters to receive the expensive upgrade. Hollywood
studios are expected to shift fully to digital distribution by the end
of 2013, and without the projector, 99W may have closed. Go catch the
last whiff of 35 mm before it disappears—Gremlins is playing this weekend.
OPEN BARS: Two once-pending bars are now open to the public. The new Southeast incarnation of The Nest Lounge
(2715 SE Belmont St.), which held a premature opening party Aug. 2
before things were held up by city red tape, can now celebrate in
earnest: The bar’s grand opening was Sept. 13. >> Meanwhile, a few
blocks from the Nest’s old Alberta Street location, music venue and bar
the Knock Back is expected toopen this week in the former Del
Inti space (2315 NE Alberta St.). The official grand opening is planned
for the end of September, and concert bookings begin Oct. 3.