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Northeast Portland Is Getting Its First Real-Deal Pinball Bar

Solid State is rolling into The Know’s former digs

The Know/Facebook
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Geeks, rejoice: A new pinball bar is opening on NE Sandy. Solid State should open in July with 25 to 30 pinball machines, a menu of polished bar food, and plenty of tall boys and shots. The bar comes from local pinball operator Chris Rhodes and chef and pinball enthusiast Alan Robertson, who has cooked at the James Beard House with San Diego’s Kitchen 1540.

Here’s the bad news: It’s going into the former punk bar The Know. Earlier this year, a dispute between the owner and several of its employees led to a mass exodus of acts and employees. Rhodes says the bar closed with no announcement, and the two new business owners took over the space. The two are trying to keep the spirit of The Know alive, preserving and adding to the murals while cleaning up the bar overall. “We’re trying to keep old Portland alive,” Rhodes says. His business partner adds, “It’s not something you can just design over.” The former stage will become the pinball space, with several machines dating back to the ‘60s. Because Rhodes supplies pinball machines across Portland, he has a wide collection — but both Rhodes and Robertson are partial to the older machines.

For those who aren’t huge pinball nerds, Portland is a “sort of a Mecca” for the game, in Robertson’s words. The Rose City has a huge number of pinball machines; in fact, in 2017, Willamette Week reported that we had more pinball machines that both New York and Los Angeles, making Portland the pinball capital of the country. Rhodes operates about 50 pinball machines in Portland alone, and he’s a little bummed he couldn’t fit more into Solid State. Still, the bar is a low-key bar first: The drink list will be casual — “The pinball community likes shots and tall boys,” Robertson says — and the food menu will stick to crispy double-fried fries, burgers, and house-made veggie burger patties. “That’s a comfort zone for me,” Robertson says. Stay tuned as the restaurant gets closer to opening this summer. Solid State will be located at 3728 NE Sandy Boulevard.

The Know [Facebook]
Employees of Portland Punk Club the Know Reportedly Quit En Masse Following Financial Dispute With Owner [WWeek]
Yes, Portland Has More Pinball Machines Than New York and Los Angeles [WWeek]