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Newbie Bar Owner Bart Blasengame Talks Bars, Owning, Self

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Bart Blasengame, Portland Monthly senior editor and, also, writer for everywhere from Details--where he profiled J.R. Rotem (remember that particular Brit-episode?), Ben Affleck, and a post-Screech Dustin Diamond--to Nerve, and Seattle, has just diversified his employment portfolio and, along with his wife Marli and pal Megan Wentworth and cook Grant Miller, opened a St. Johns bar called The Fixin' To. Turning the tables on an interviewer, Eater asked Blasengame to describe the bar, the process, and the why. For whatever reason, he agreed. Results follow, part 1 of 2.

My wife and I got the idea in the heart of the gears of recession when we were both fearing for our jobs. We were watching some hipster puppet show at Disjecta. A little drunk. She said, “Hey let’s open a bar!” Typical trash-talk except it just seemed too perfect. Like...yeah, why not? We brought her cousin in, found this wonderfully positioned place at the crux of St. Johns owned by the dear departed Greg Klaus, and started work. First we got married though. In late August. Honeymoon first week of September. Been working on the Fixin’ To ever since.

It was super important for us to be in St. Johns.

We live right up the road in Kenton and have always loved the Mayberry meets Williamsburg vibe of this magical little strip of Lombard. And while we love a good dive bar (oh the fights and caterwauling karaoke we witnessed in the old Slims) we figured that since St. Johns is one of the last places where people can actually afford to buy a home (i.e. Lots of young couples and families) the folks there deserved something a little nicer. Classy-trashy we call it.

Our food is Southern food. Which is to say functional and filling...not fancy. Chicken and dumplings, Frito Pie, Chili Bucket, Meatloaf, Ritz-crusted chicken strips, Rotel cheese dip. These are all things Grant and I grew up watching our parents and grandparents prepare so there’s definitely a sense of reclaiming out childhood and paying homage to our elders when we’re serving it. Considering we’re doing it all without a fryer, we’re pretty damn proud.

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of 2, which'll include stories of local razzing, the particular meaning of video poker resistance, and the possibility that St Johns might be becoming... well... we'll tell you then.
· The Fixin' To [Official Site]
· The Fixin' To Blog [Official Site]

8218 N Lombard St, Portland, Or 97203