The problem with loving something is that eventually you have to say goodbye and it will rip out your heart. Last year, the venerable Portland Staple of punk rock and heavy metal, Ash Street Saloon, closed it’s doors for good. This year, on St. Patrick’s Day, Chop Stix III, the best karaoke bar and Chinese restaurant on Portland’s East Side had it’s final night of revelry.
I’ve been going to Chop Stix III (not to be confused with the still open Chop Stix in Down Town) for a decade now. It’s where I first performed karaoke and developed my love and panache for that artistic medium.
But, it was more than just a karaoke bar or a place to get a giant bowl of egg drop soup.
Chop Stix III was a world unto itself. It was, in a way, the City of Portland in a dingy bar. All kinds of people showed up: bikers, metal heads, hipsters, preppies, accountants, lawyers, doctors, cops, firemen, straight couples, gay couples, karaoke professionals and gawkers. I never had a bad night here. Every night was special and fun and memorable. From several birthday parties to just regular gettogethers, even with the lengthy drive from Cedar Hills, Chop Stix III was worth it.
But, that’s what’s great about Portland. Sure, Chop Stix III may have closed its doors. That makes me sad and bums me out. I loved Chop Stix III and I hate saying goodbye to things that I love. But, the good news is, I’ll find a new spot. Portland, Oregon is not poor for karaoke bars, concert clubs and hangouts. It’s possible an already existing place, like the Analog Café, Suki’s or the aforementioned Chop Stix will end up as my next favorite place to go. As my next place to meet friends, old and new.
But, Chop Stix III was the first place I karaoke and for that reason, it will always hold a special place in my heart. The tiny bathroom that could barely fit in one person, let alone the two toilets within. The outdoor patio with the coy pond, the ginormous bar with super friendly wait staff and $1 PBR’s. The delicious shrimp bites and hamburgers, the large wooden stage and elaborate sound system. To look at it, it may not look like much, but is was special and it will be missed.
But, I won’t be down. I won’t stay down. Something else will pop up and I’ll love it as well. Portland loves new things and new places, even while we celebrate the old. The city is always moving forward and improving and, even though it hurts to see a mainstay like CS III close, I know that it’s onward and upward to something better. That’s the Portland way.