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Skyline Tavern set for rebirth as legit bike riders’ hang-out

Posted by on February 25th, 2015 at 11:11 am

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Things are looking up for the old and worn-down Skyline Tavern.
(Photo: Google Maps)

If you’ve never heard of Skyline Tavern, it’s not your fault: The wood-sided “saloon” facade is tucked among trees set back behind a parking lot and the food and vibe has always been a bit sleepy and disappointing. I stopped in a few months ago to escape a cold and rainy night and — while the folks inside were nice — I felt like I walked into someone’s living room. There wasn’t much there there.

Even though it’s located along one of the most well-traveled bicycle routes in the Portland region, few people ever stop in. But now that might change since a new owner has bought the place and intends to remodel it.

As reported Monday by Eater.com, the Skyline Tavern has a “new lease on life” (emphases mine):

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“When it went on the market in December, complete with 2.2 acres, everyone feared the worst: All that promise would be torn down to make way for a McMansion. Well, Portland, we dodged a bullet. Environmental filmmaker Scott Ray Becker, whose own mother used to hit the tavern after sneaking away from Miss Catlin’s School (as Catlin Gabel was once known), has purchased the nearly 100-year-old tavern and the only thing he wants to do is, well, make everything better.

…Since taking over in January, he’s been power washing away years of mold and moss, and getting rid of the bad canned chili and “shit ass Merlot.” In their place, he has Terminal Gravity and Ecliptic beers on tap (he used to brew beer with John Harris at Full Sail), and a selection of wine from importer Casa Bruno.

…And as part of that experiment, he’s planning to add a turntable and records, turn part of the sprawling grounds into an outdoor amphitheater to show films, let kids and dogs run free, and promote the tavern as a destination for trail runners, hikers and cyclists.”

The tavern is located at 8031 NW Skyline Blvd, just south of the intersection with Germantown Road. It’s easily accessible from downtown Portland via the well-worn bike routes on NW Lovejoy-Cornell-Thompson and/or via Leif Erikson, Saltzman, and other dirt roads in Forest Park. Many of our favorite, close-in loop rides go right by it.

We’ll try to get in touch with new owner and report back about any bike-centric plans he’s got. No matter what happens, we can’t wait to check it out this summer!

UPDATE, 11:44 am: As a reader below points out, there’s a grand opening party set for March 7th. Check their Facebook page for more.

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Alex
Guest
Alex

Hope he does well! Would love to see some in-house energy bars, put in bike repair station and tube vending machine.

I would love to see some support from them for getting MTB access in FP, as well!

Josh G
Guest

We just biked there from downtown. Took Leif to a hikeabike up Springville Rd. This puts you out much closer than Saltzman if you want to have more forest time. Waterline Rd exits directly across Skyline from the tavern, but it’s muddy and not bike legal.
Scott the new owner is very excited to welcome bikers. They are continuing the prev. tradition of welcoming BYOmeat to their grill.
Grand opening party is March 7 Amazing how many roadies rode by on Skyline.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Skyline-Tavern-Project/420550924766524

Brian Engelen
Guest
Brian Engelen

If you want a closer hike and “don’t ride the bike” there is a fire lane and a nice hidden meadow right across the street.

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

Great news! Looking forward to hiking up there and hanging.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Is Waterline truly not bike legal? I haven’t ridden it for years, and only downhill, but I thought it was OK for bikes.

Josh G
Guest

Brian, Tom: Waterline Rd. ends at the water tower, right across the street from the Tavern, and is not listed as a bikeway on the maps in Forest Park.

Brian Engelen
Guest
Brian Engelen

You gotta hike that part.

Eric in Seattle
Guest
Eric in Seattle

Cue the old timers complaining about gentrification in 3…2…1..

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

From a residential development standpoint, Skyline Blvd’s grandeur, if you will, already has been, and is threatened by gentrification. Indication of what I’m talking about, are houses that have already been allowed to be built from Cornell, west to Skyline Memorial. Skyline’s outstanding views from the road out over the valley are being replaced by views of the sides of houses.

It would require more complicated design and construction to do it, but houses could be built below the grade of the road, sustaining the scenic views out over the valley.

I’ve never been in the Skyline Tavern, though it’s looked inviting. I’ve always loved seeing it there, and thought it had some potential for business from people that bike, given its location on the scenic Skyline Blvd. The tavern could be an excellent pit stop for people from the cities below, riding the length of Skyline.

I always had hopes as well, that someone would be able to figure out sort of an innovative way to make a go of the out of business drive-in just down the road to the west from the tavern. Nothing too complicated, but better than what’s available (no offense to hard working business people… ) at the convenience store down at the Cornelius Pass Rd intersection.

was carless
Guest
was carless

| Cue the old timers complaining about gentrification

No, see this is considered historic preservation. Rare case of win-win.

meh
Guest
meh

I remember when gentrification was called urban renewal.

Although not sure if gentrification is the word for what would happen on Skyline, development seems to be more apt.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

There’s never ever really been much wrong with the looks of the tavern on the outside, as far as fitting in with the road’s scenic, wooded setting. The building is just a single story, long structure. It’s not blocking views, as some of the housing, higher up along the road to the east of the tavern already has. It fits in with the road house ethic and the rural, wooded setting it’s in. People out for a scenic ride or drive on Skyline could enjoy the occasional, decent, comfortable place along the road to sit down and relax, refresh themselves. This is where the tavern could fit in better than it may have in past.

I suppose the city or the county may not have rules, regulations, laws, to to protect views from Skyline and perhaps other roads such as Fairmount Blvd, Humprhey Blvd, and Hewett Blvd. Possibly because generally, people aren’t keenly aware of what’s gradually happening to views from these roads.

Both the tavern and the closed drive may date back at least to the 50’s, serving people out Sunday driving or cruising in their heaps, hot rods, and motorcycles. Skyline today, seems increasingly favored for biking, with good reason. This scenic road’s character, converted to intensive residential development, seems like a bad idea.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Another reason the Wildwood Trail needs a pedestrian trail bridge over West Burnside.

Alex
Guest
Alex

What? Do you realize how far that is from the tavern?

Rick
Guest
Rick

It is still a fantastic trail. People are meeting today to convince Metro to give funding for that pedestrian bridge.

Fallaballa
Guest
Fallaballa

rick comments on every westside post with a call to build the Red Electric Trail.

Rick
Guest
Rick

What else is the city building for SW to connect neighbors over a several mile distance?

was carless
Guest
was carless

This is in NW Portland. Far-out NW.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Bridge? I’d like another tram to haul myself up to the tavern; you can really break a sweat riding up Springville.

Matti
Guest
Matti

I hope he keeps some funk: the old 7Up sign.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

They could be a strong ally for improving cycling conditions on skyline as well as mountain biking in forest park.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Hot D*MN! I’ve ridden by there many a time, wishing for an excuse to stop and rest the legs. Great news! The only problem will be, descending Germantown after a couple of pints.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Casey Jones you better watch your speed!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I’m wondering if the new owner has Helvetia Tavern in mind. That place does great business. Generously sized burgers for those that like and need them. Chowing that down will ease the effects of a couple beers. Other stuff too, including some veggie items.

Setting is similar in some respects to Skylines: right on a road that many people like to ride and drive, beautiful countryside. Nice outdoor seating. Helvetia has a really nice view to west, for sunsets. To the south, nice looking old rail bridge over the road. Big fields to the east. Skyline Tavern’s setting has lots going for it too though.

More recreational activity on Skyline would be a great boon to sustaining the ability of the road to continue to be a recreational destination. Over recent years, with gradually more residential development along the road occurring, increased commuting of suburban residents to and from the road, has diminished the road’s function as a great residential destination.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Pics here at The Oregonian’s website.

http://www.oregonlive.com/multimedia/index.ssf/2015/02/new_life_for_skyline_tavern_po.html

Good luck, Skyline! Glad to hear that even the hoity toity NW has folks willing to invest in a neighborhood drinking establishment.

Ted Buehler

davemess
Guest
davemess

Yep, no bars in NW…….

Scott Batchelar
Guest

Add a couple more hours of sunlight to the day and this is a perfect opportunity to test out my new Bafang 750 Watt Bike Motor up the Leif Erickson Trail after work.

I’ve missed Skyline Tavern, It was one of the Hilhi Sparts favorite hangouts after football or basketball games back in the 80’s.

Looking forward to taking a long fun cross ride up here once there’s a bit more light in the day!

Opus the Poet
Guest

Is that the crank driver 700W or one of the various hub motors? Because 700W at the crank would be the way to go up that hill.

Fallaballa
Guest
Fallaballa

people, let’s not force these guys into bike advocacy right off the bat. I think these are unfair expectations.

if you want to open FP, then sure you can MEET at Skyline, but there’s no need to guilt them into the cause before they even fix their septic system.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Vote with your dollars.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Wow. This place used to be cash only?!?!?!
In 2014?!?!?!?!

Joe
Guest
Joe

gotta check this place out love the retro feel.

caesar
Guest
caesar

Nice. Driven by many times, now I’ll bike there.

Jon Wood
Guest
Jon Wood

I stopped and imbibed at the Skyline for years, and I saw other cyclists there. I always found the bar keep and others friendly, other than it being smoke-filled at times. And I recall, there were few meatless options on the menu, but I am sure Scott Ray will change that.

lunchrider
Guest
lunchrider

stopped by on Saturday at alleged grand opening. Was told unpleasantly that we were wrong.
not a very friendly place, surly and unfriendly bartender
place felt like we were crashing a private party.
Will need work to be a place I would try again