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December 20th, 2006 Jessica Machado | Featured Stories
 

Where Everybody Knows His Name

Ron Toms creates a bar in his own image, and it looks like Dayton, Ohio—circa 1960.

     
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If you're going to name a bar after yourself—and you're not a McMenamin—you better know what you're doing. Luckily, Mr. Ron Toms does. His new lounge on East Burnside Street is a swanky knockoff of his grandparents' living room in Dayton, Ohio, circa 1960, right down to the leather smoking chairs and orange vinyl seats.

At rontoms (yes, "no caps" are in effect again, folks), patrons are free to rearrange furniture and turn off tabletop lamps (although there's not much privacy in the open 3,000-square-foot den), and on Sunday afternoons, B-movie matinees are screened on the back wall, courtesy of an 8 mm projector and vintage home speakers. However, Toms' home-away-from-home concept is not free of selfish motives—he wanted to create a space where his mid-30s-ish pals could hang without being crowded by pool tables and cigarette smoke, or—lord forbid—burdened by bridge hopping.

But while Toms may be keen on the social desires of the hipster homebody (like trading in pajamas for skinny jeans), the former Nike graphic designer had no prior business or service experience before opening his bar in late October. The sole proprietor hasn't even waited a table. But when Toms could no longer stomach his 9-to-5 life, he decided to capitalize on what he spent the rest of his waking hours doing—drying out the neighborhood watering holes. "I'm a barfly, and that's pretty much where my expertise lies," he explains.

Drop by on an early Wednesday evening, or at closing time on a Saturday night, and you'll see evidence of Toms' qualifications. A good-looking, shaggy-haired fellow with a perpetual highball in his hand, Toms can be spotted bantering with beauties, spouting off with old drinking buddies or chatting up anyone within earshot. It's no surprise that after a decade and a half in Portland, Toms had made quite a few friends around town. But the charming Midwesterner (shucks, he even flew his grandpa in for the opening) is always hoping to make a few more.


rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., 236-4536. 4 pm-2:30 am Monday-Friday, 5:30 pm-2:30 am Saturday-Sunday.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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