Revelry, a sleek and bright cocktail bar specializing in Korean bar snacks, flavored soju shots, and late night DJ dance hours, has permanently closed. In a heartfelt letter posted to social media, the owners described an increasingly familiar reason for the closing, as the new COVID-19 social distancing guidelines would bring the bar from 48 seats to around a dozen.
According to co-owner Eric Bowler, the decision was made a few days ago. Despite offers from the landlord to convert part of the parking lot to patio seating, there just wouldn’t be enough volume to justify staying open. “The landlord was so cool, it really reinvigorated us,” Bowler says. “But once the tape measurers came out and we moved things around, we realized: this was it. With the six-foot distancing in a small restaurant like this, where people are sitting in close proximity to people, it just doesn’t leave enough room to have enough tables. And with no counter or bar seating that’s like 20 of our seats down.”
Bowler also notes that Portland patio season just wasn’t long enough to make a patio model sustainable, especially with a parking lot directly on busy SE Martin Luther King Boulevard. The 10 p.m. curfew was also an issue, as the bar would be losing “prime hours,” but even in Phase 2, with an extended midnight curfew, Bowler says the 14 or so seats would still be too few.
Revelry opened in 2016, the first Portland restaurant from the celebrated Relay group in Seattle. Chefs, co-owners, and James Beard nominees, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi had already developed serious devotees for their restaurants Joule and Revel, partnering with local bar owners Eric and Karen Bowler. Portland Monthly named Revelry the “Rising Star Restaurant” of the year, calling the restaurant a “high-style, vintage clubhouse” with a “determination to combine great food with a verve found in Portland design and music but often lacking in our dining scene.” The restaurant’s Korean fried chicken with peanut brittle became a quintessential Portland bar snack, and the restaurant also became the playground of chef de cuisine Diane Lam, who Eater Portland called a “rising star” in 2019. Lam has her own plans in Portland, coming soon.