Located across the river in Northeast Portland the Rose City Book Pub has been a community staple since it opened three and a half years ago. Previously an Irish pub, the green building with gold trim pays homage to the business before it, as does the bar that is central to its current operation.
When you walk in, you are greeted by an amalgamation of colorful art for sale, dark wooden furniture and Ricky Nelson’s “It’s Up To You” playing in the background. The decor, books and bar mesh together in a combination of aesthetics that seem as though they should not work. However, everything blends together seamlessly on the corner of Northeast 14th and Fremont.
Bartender and cook John has been working at Rose City Book Pub since its opening in 2018. According to John, owner Elise Schumock had a specific vision for the Book Pub.
“She used to be a schoolteacher,” John said. “She would frequent bars and think ‘I wish I had a place I could just go read.’ This was her concept, she quit teaching to open this bar.”
Like any good used bookstore, sorting through the shelves and stacks of books is a treasure hunt. Exploring the different reading nooks leads to discovering an eclectic mix of plush chairs, stuffed animals and genres ranging from science fiction to social justice.
The employees of Book Pub embrace its unique business model and, being the first book bar to open in Portland, they offer a variety of literature alongside wine, beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. This is accompanied by a cafe-esque food menu, all of which you can enjoy at one of the tables or reading nooks found in the dining space.
The pub places an emphasis on community, made clear by its events schedule and the familiarity expressed by their patrons. One table even called out to John by his first name, asking him to turn up Sherman Kelly’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” (which he did with a grin). Their calendar is full of live music, film screenings and trivia nights.
“Elise is pretty much open to anyone’s idea,” John said. “They just have to approach her.”
They also hold book talks and have a section dedicated to local authors that frequent their space for readings.
Open from noon to midnight, the establishment switches over to a 21+ bar at 9 p.m. This results in a large variety of patrons, from families in the afternoon discovering books and businessmen working at laptops, to the turnover of young people looking for a fun spot to hang out. Most importantly, John makes a point to say that everyone is and feels welcome.
“Everyone who comes in here feels a sense of community,” John said.
Rose City Book Pub is a friendly, unique space that offers something for everyone. While a bit of a trek from campus, it is worth it to discover the well worn stacks and nooks that the establishment has to offer. Whether you are looking for a quiet place to study or somewhere to drink and hang out with friends, this book bar welcomes everyone with open arms and food to give.