Saturday, November 11, 2006

McMenamins Kennedy School (Portland, OR)


It looks like the history of the Kennedy School is covered well in the previous reviews, so I'll focus on what found unique about the Kennedy School and McMenamins in general.

The Kennedy School itself is a fun place, quite beautifully done, especially the bar in the old cafeteria with an entire wall of windows to the outside patio with fireplace. They extend the metaphor a little bit with the Detention Bar, etc. I really like that the McMenamins chain takes old buildings and restores rather than replaces, preserving the history and community. While we were there, we walked by a Celebration of Life in a side room and a Victory Garden restored on the other side of the parking lot as an educational garden.

Later, when chatting with a bartender at the next place I visited, I mentioned that I had just come from the Kennedy School; he gave me a beer snob eye roll, one I might give to someone who has just found the new great place called Rock Bottom. But in the end, he was intrigued by my point of view enough to give me a mind opening Hmmmm.

I agreed that the beer at McMenamins (I visited three between Seattle and Portland) is adequate to a bit above average for the best beers; however, because of the attitude McMenamins takes towards saving structures and fitting into local communities, that this is what capitalism is meant to be. Every McMenamins had tater tots for us to eat, as well as other in common beers and food items, but then the rest was local adjustments, down to the price of our tater tots changed with each place we went to, which we paid the most for them at the Six Arms location. McMenamins is a chain, but it's a chain with heart that could show so-called compassionate conservatives how capitalism works when community is at the center of making money.

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