Starting Wednesday, November 18, Portland bars and restaurants will have to put away their outdoor tables and close off their temporary patios, thanks to a new onsite dining ban in response to the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases across the state. The pandemic, in general, has been devastating for both Portland restaurants and performers, who often rely on now-closed concert venues and bars for gigs.
Facing another shutdown, Shine Distillery’s Jon Poteet will try out his latest pivot, an opportunity to help draw takeout customers to his North Williams distillery and restaurant while also supporting the city’s drag performers: Starting Wednesday, Shine will offer a “drag thru,” a makeshift drive-thru where customers can watch drag performances while they wait for their food.
Poteet has used greenhouse frames to build a clear, tunnel-style structure next to the Shine space. Customers will drive up, place an order, and watch as drag queens like Lulu Luscious and Bolivia Charmichaels from the nearby garage doors. Then, staff will deliver food, cocktail kits, and bottles of spirits made onsite to cars before they roll through.
Because Shine is technically both a restaurant and a distillery, it is one of the only bars that can sell spirits to-go, despite the state’s laws prohibiting takeout cocktail sales from bars and restaurants. The distillery’s bottles generally stick to agave, vodka, and gin, though the distillery also offers a single whiskey aged in American white oak barrels.
On the food side of things, the restaurant has switched up its culinary team: Bala Smith and Jens Mortensen have been starting to put their own touches on the menu, which is still in development; Poteet says he recently got his hands on a new smoker for the restaurant, which Smith and Mortensen will start playing with soon. Another new addition are cheesecakes from the under-the-radar favorite Muse Cheesecakes; the bakery has moved into Shine, where customers can pick up orders by-the slice in flavors like quince, pumpkin spice, and bourbon dark chocolate. Those cheesecakes will also be available via the drive-thru.
The grand debut of the drag-thru concept begins at 3 p.m. November 18, but in terms of future performances, it depends on the turnout. Poteet is thinking shows may start later in the day in the future, or the distillery may feature different types of musicians and shows. “It’s the pandemic pivot, here we go,” Poteet says. “I just have to keep pulling aces out of my sleeve.”
• Shine Distillery [Official]
• Muse Cheesecakes [Official]
• Oregon Pauses Indoor and Outdoor Dining at Restaurants and Bars for at Least Two Weeks [EPDX]
• Oregon’s Fight for To-Go Cocktails, Explained [EPDX]