There is no slope to the awning that juts out over Yamhill Street, no subtlety to the shape at all, just a green awning inscribed with Yamhill Pub sticking out of a white building with no other discernible features. The text book definition of ‘dive bar’ is Portland’s Yamhill Pub, one of the last holdouts of a downtown area redeveloped to the point of pushing out all but a few of the original, unchanging, unflinching Portland gems that once wholly populated the area. This is a simple space, a rectangle box with pale walls and low tables dispensing drinks over decades.
Opened in 1939 and under its current ownership since 1994, there is a stability to Yamhill Pub that can be seen clearly in its presentation. Stickers, graffiti or both cover every inch of the space, crawling up the walls to the ceiling, covering the lone window that now filters in only a spare bit of light here and there. The devotion to preserving and enshrining Yamhill Pub’s innate charm is thorough, extending to the pop up installation created during the COVID-19 pandemic in the street in front of the bar, even that bit of Yamhill similarly covered in stickers and graffiti.
Times change of course, but at the height of Yamhill Pub’s business, the Portland dive bar ranked as one of the top sellers of PBR in the country, some reports estimating that as many as 26 kegs of PBR flew through the taps at Yamhill Pub weekly. Homages to the bar’s devotion to PBR can be seen in some of the graffiti and decorations inside.