There are, in the grand scheme of things, many things that Austin and Portland share: an overused slogan plastered on bumper stickers, a love of live music and barbecue, Proud Mary locations. There are a few Portland-born businesses that have expanded to Austin, including Zeds Real Fruit Ice Cream and Voodoo Doughnut. But the opposite — Austin businesses opening locations in Portland — is a rarer occurrence. Soon, however, a sliver of Austin will land on North Mississippi, a bar complete with Ranch Water, wood-fired pizzas, and Austin bands on the stereo.
Lustre Pearl opened in 2009 as a small, laid-back bar on a then-quiet Rainey Street in Austin. Owner Bridget Dunlap has since turned the bar into something of a chain, and spurred the neighborhood’s shift into an entertainment district. Her restaurant and bar group, Dunlap ATX, operates bars throughout Austin, and expanded into Denver in 2017. But according to general manager and co-owner Matthew Wienholt, opening a Portland location has been on the agenda for years. “We always had talked about coming to Portland,” he says. “Just because of the vibes of the city, they’re somewhat similar to Austin. Those talks became serious about a year ago.” As a result, Wienholt moved to Portland from Denver, where he used to run the Colorado Lustre Pearl, and began scouting locations and talent.
The company landed on the former Quaintrelle space and its next door neighbor, the former bookstore Another Read Through, which they are currently transforming into a larger bar and lounge. “It’s rock-and-roll but elegant,” Wienholt says. “You’ll find a very large gold disco ball hanging from the ceiling, a gold outlined bar, purples, lighter greens and blues. There’s definitely going to be some space to sit... but we like to have everything moveable, for dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Those dance parties will include live music — Wienholt even hinted at the possibility of Dunlap herself stopping by to sing Stevie Nicks covers — but much of the music playing at Lustre Pearl will represent both Portland and Austin’s music scenes, with local bands from both cities. This ethos will also apply to the drink menu, which will include Texas-inflected cocktails like Ranch Water (a citrusy tequila soda), margaritas, and the Matthew Pecanaughey, an Old Fashioned made with pecan simple syrup. The Portland side of the menu is still in development, especially as Wienholt begins hiring local bar staff.
The food menu will take cues from the Denver location, with a menu of wood-fired pizzas. “Pizza is such a popular entree here in the city of Portland, but we’ve had our experience with pizza here. We have great relationships with people in Denver, learned a lot about wood-fired pizza, so we’re bringing some of those chefs to help design the menu,” Wienholt says. “We know there are other options on that street, and we want [Lustre Pearl] to be bar-forward. But we also want people to know you can get a really good pie here if you’re interested.”
Lustre Pearl is slated to open in early 2022 at 3936 North Mississippi Avenue.