The Alibi Tiki Lounge in N. Portland to celebrate 75th anniversary this weekend
PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - A beloved bar in North Portland will be celebrating a big milestone this weekend.
Located at 4024 North Interstate Avenue sits an urban oasis that seems immune to the passing days, months or even years.
“As you look around, it’s completely frozen in time.”
Marcus Archambeault owns The Alibi Tiki Lounge.
“This is one of the oldest continuously operated tiki bars in the country, if not the oldest, one of the top five,” he said.
The first tiki bars opened in California in the 1930s, as a kitschy vision of what mainlanders imagined life was like in Hawaii and the Pacific Isles. Their popularity grew when sailors and soldiers returned from the South Pacific in World War II.
Cut to 1947, when a man named Roy Ell added some tropical flair to a section of his bar on North Interstate.
“This is where it all started. We had a little pinball machine, some of the decorations that you see behind us are some of the original ones, and he just went from here,” Archambeault said. “This actually is the original bar that [Ells] brought from his basement.”
Even when the popularity of tiki bars began to fade in the 60s, The Alibi kept its tropical vibe in place, serving Mai Tai’s and Singapore Slings.
Really, the only major change at the lounge came in the 1980s when a popular activity from Japan first landed in the U.S.
“Pre-COVID, we were the longest operating karaoke bar in the city since the 1980s, 365 days a year,” said Archambeault.
Visitors will be singing “Happy Birthday” this Saturday when The Alibi celebrates its 75th anniversary with a luau-themed party that’s open to all ages. It’s a celebration of the original vision and the people that have kept it alive through the decades.
“It’s iconic place. It’s just important to preserve this for Portland,” Archambeault said.
So while the winds of change may blow outside these walls, inside time will keep moving at its own deliberate pace. Comforting and familiar, like a warm Pacific breeze.
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