Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge

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Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge
Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge-2.jpg
The restaurant's exterior in 2014, shortly after closing
Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge is located in Portland, Oregon
Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge
Location in Portland, Oregon
Restaurant information
Established before 1949
Closed February 20, 2014 (2014-02-20)
Street address 625 NW 21st Avenue
City Portland
County Multnomah
State Oregon
Postal code/ZIP 97209
Country United States
Coordinates 45°31′39″N 122°41′41″W / 45.52756°N 122.69468°W / 45.52756; -122.69468Coordinates: 45°31′39″N 122°41′41″W / 45.52756°N 122.69468°W / 45.52756; -122.69468
Reservations No

The Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge was a restaurant and nightclub located along Northwest 21st Avenue in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Popular with young adults, the restaurant was known for serving fishbowl alcoholic beverages, for its 1950s-era furnishings, and for hosting karaoke and goldfish racing tournaments. The restaurant is said to have influenced local alcohol policies; noise complaints and signs of drunken behavior by patrons made the business a target for curfews and closure. Concept Entertainment owned the restaurant from 1992 until 2014, when it was closed unexpectedly.

Description[edit]

Located at 625 Northwest 21st Avenue in Portland's Nob Hill neighborhood,[1] Gypsy was a "boisterous",[1] "disco-balled Nob Hill dive", recognizable by its bouncers, karaoke, and "wobbling smokers".[2] The Portland Mercury said the restaurant was a "kinda retro-y bar... popular with a young college-y, drinkin', party crowd".[3] One Portland resident described the club as "the kind of place where you can go with your sophisticated friends and look at the Daddy-O decor. Or you can go on a date and snuggle in a corner where the lighting is low. And if you want to meet new people you can stroll through there and see people whose faces you've never seen before, which is a rare thing in Portland."[2]

The establishment was also known for serving fishbowl alcoholic beverages,[1] and in its final years, for hosting goldfish racing tournaments.[2] The interior featured 1950s-era furnishings and "pinball-panel" wall decorations.[1][3] Gypsy served soup, sandwiches, and full entrees.[3] Karaoke was available beginning at 9 pm on Tuesday through Saturday evenings.[1]

History[edit]

In 1948, The Oregonian published an advertisement for the Gypsy Restaurant and Lounge, promoting an eight-course dinner for $1.25, between the hours of 4 pm and 3 am. The restaurant's location was described as "next to 21st Avenue Theater", between Northwest Hoyt and Irving Streets.[4] In 1955, the paper reported that $1,000 was stolen from an unlocked safe stored at the Gypsy Restaurant, located at 612 Northwest 21st Avenue.[5]

In 1963, the restaurant and lounge moved to its final location, at the intersection of Northwest 21st Avenue and Hoyt Street, across from Cinema 21.[6][7][8] Artwork on the interior walls included a large and colorful painting depicting a gypsy camp, and an "attractive" nude called Dian by Grace Harlow, a painter and former student of Louis Bunce.[7] The "New Gypsy", which also featured "mottled" iridescent red windows that were translucent,[6] could seat 150 guests and included a banquet area. On opening night, the restaurant reportedly played songs by Frank Fontaine.[7]

According to a 1973 Oregonian obituary, Gypsy Restaurant was then owned and operated by Stacy Gurganus.[9] An obituary published by The Oregonian in 1987 said that Gertrude "Tiny" Hursick of Lake Oswego co-owned Gypsy and Gordon's 7-Up Bar, also located in Northwest Portland.[10] John Hursick continued to own and operate the restaurant until about 1993; he died in 1999.[11] Gypsy also hosted musical acts. In 1985, the Chris Conrad Quartet performed in the "Rhythm Room".[12]

Concept Entertainment[edit]

Ownership of Gypsy transferred to Concept Entertainment in 1992. The company has owned other Portland establishments such as Bar 71,[13] Barracuda Nightclub,[14] Dixie Tavern, Grand Central Bowl, the Lotus Cardroom and Cafe, Quest,[13] and the Thirsty Lion.[2][15] According to Willamette Week, the restaurant had an "odd" influence on local alcohol policies.[2] In 1994, Charlie Hales and Vera Katz, then serving as city commissioner and mayor, respectively, sought to close the business due to assaults, signs of drunkenness by patrons, and noise complaints. However, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) refused.[2][16] In 2013, when Hales was the mayor of Portland, he unsuccessfully requested that the OLCC enforce a 10 pm curfew for bar patios within the Portland city limits.[2][16]

The restaurant's interior in 2014, shortly after closing

Under Concept's ownership, Gypsy hosted a variety of events. In 2000, it hosted opening and closing night parties for Sensory Perceptions' annual film festival, which spanned two weekends at neighboring Cinema 21.[17] In 2006, the restaurant hosted a birthday party for Andy Warhol, nearly twenty years after his death. One Oregonian contributor called Gypsy a "fitting setting" for the celebration, given its lava lamps and blue and orange fishbowl drinks, which he said were "like Pop art through a straw".[18] In 2007, the restaurant was one of several Portland locations depicted in "Virtual Portland", a three-dimensional computer-generated simulation of the city, designed for Second Life.[19][20] Other events hosted by the restaurant included trivia competitions and rock band karaoke, featuring a live backing band.[21] In 2009, when Cinema 21 hosted "Can't Stop the Serenity", a benefit for Equality Now that included two screenings of the 2005 film Serenity, Gypsy partnered with the theater by hosting a costume contest, pub quiz, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog karaoke.[22] In 2010, Pub Quiz USA hosted an "All 'Lost' Trivia Night" for fans of the television program Lost.[23] Gypsy often screened episodes of Mad Men, the American television series set in the 1960s,[24] and pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship matches.[25]

Exterior signage in 2014

In 2010, in an attempt to offer "something different and exciting to do",[26] Gypsy began hosting goldfish racing tournaments.[2][27] A chef who worked at Gypsy proposed hosting the tournaments after seeing videos of fish racing online. Two other establishments owned by Concept Entertainment also hosted goldfish races.[26] Gypsy's cross-shaped track was 9 feet (2.7 m) long and "tricked out with fancy runway lights".[26] The tournaments prompted criticism by a local veterinarian and a spokesperson for the Oregon Humane Society, who suggested they "may skirt the line of the humane society's guiding principle, which is to not inflict pain and suffering on animals for enjoyment".[26] The spokesperson also said, "I do wish people could find different ways to entertain themselves."[2]

After operating for more than twenty years, and despite having advertised future events at the club, the business closed abruptly on February 20, 2014.[2][28] Its website and social media pages were shut down immediately, and a sign was posted at the club noting that Concept Entertainment had decided to sell. The space that Gypsy had occupied was immediately available for long-term lease, with furniture included.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge Review". Fodor's. May 28, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Korfhage, Matthew; Mesh, Aaron (February 25, 2014). "The Gypsy Restaurant and Lounge Has Closed". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge". The Portland Mercury (Portland, Oregon: Index Publishing). Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Good News!". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). January 16, 1948. p. 25. 
  5. ^ "Restaurant Safe Yields Loot". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). January 14, 1955. p. 51. 
  6. ^ a b March, Fredric (February 20, 1963). "Behind the Mike". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). p. 23. 
  7. ^ a b c Murphy, Francis (June 17, 1963). "Behind the Mike". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). p. 29. 
  8. ^ Murphy, Francis (June 25, 1963). "Behind the Mike". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). p. 19. 
  9. ^ "Obituaries: Stacy Gurganus". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). December 27, 1973. p. 18. 
  10. ^ "Obituary: Gertrude D. Hursick". The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, Oregon). August 2, 1987. p. 49. 
  11. ^ "Obituaries". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). February 2, 1999. p. B08. 
  12. ^ "Veteran Guitarist Ronnie Montrose to Play at Pine Street". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). June 21, 1985. p. 146. 
  13. ^ a b Aduroja, Grace (July 2, 2001). "Living". Single Out Your Scene (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. p. C01. 
  14. ^ Hallman, Jr., Tom (August 9, 2007). "Metro Portland Neighbors: In Portland". Grand Central Ready for Area 'to Explode' (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. p. 5. 
  15. ^ Gunderson, Laura (June 13, 2011). Business. "Starbucks Goes Venti with the Vino". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
  16. ^ a b Mesh, Aaron (March 27, 2013). "Take It Inside: The City's Latest Bar Brawl with the OLCC: How Late Can Patios Stay Open?". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  17. ^ Levy, Shawn (October 13, 2000). "Arts and Entertainment". Festival Reflects on Issues of Sexuality (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. p. 24. 
  18. ^ Williams, Lee (August 11, 2006). "Arts & Entertainment". Happy birthday, Andy Warhol (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. p. 10. 
  19. ^ Woodward, Steve (April 1, 2007). "Sunday Features (O!)". Kirah Marikh in Real Life Is a 36-Year-Old Woman (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. 
  20. ^ Woodward, Steve (November 9, 2007). "Living". Virtual: One Mission Is to Introduce City to World (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. 
  21. ^ Butler, Grant (March 3, 2011). Mix Magazine. "Walkabout". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
  22. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (June 26, 2009). Arts & Entertainment. "Movies: Serenity Now". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
  23. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (January 22, 2010). Arts & Entertainment. "Return with Us Now...". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
  24. ^ Mad Men screenings:
    • Turnquist, Kristi (August 14, 2009). "Arts & Entertainment". A Tubular Feast (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. 
    • Turnquist, Kristi (August 30, 2009). "Sunday Features (O!)". Channeling 'Mad Men's' Peggy Olson Gets Her All a-Twitter (Sunrise ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co. 
    • Turnquist, Kristi (March 23, 2012). Arts & Entertainment. "Arts & Entertainment". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
    • Turnquist, Kristi (April 5, 2013). Arts & Entertainment. "Nathan Brannon, winner of the 2012 "Portland's Funniest Person" competition". The Oregonian (Sunrise ed.) (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
  25. ^ Ultimate Fighting Championship screenings:
    • Howard, Jeff (July 2, 2010). Portland MMA Examiner. "Where to Watch UFC 116 Lesnar vs. Carwin Locally". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
    • Howard, Jeff (August 26, 2010). Portland MMA Examiner. "Watch UFC 118 Edgar vs. Penn 2 Live". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Publishing Co.). 
  26. ^ a b c d Williams, Lee (December 13, 2010). "Go, Fish! Go! Could Goldfish Racing Be the Next Karaoke?". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Goldfish Racing". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  28. ^ Russell, Michael (February 25, 2014). "S.E. Portland's Lily Day Cafe Reopening as Midpoint Restaurant; N.W.'s Gypsy Bar Closes: Restaurant Roundup". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved February 27, 2014. 

External links[edit]