There are several areas of Downtown Portland that can arguably considered the hottest or hippest. Of course, everyone talks about the Pearl District, but to many others, all the real fun happens in Old Town.
While most ubiquitous businesses in this section of Downtown Portland is the ever-present VooDoo Donuts, you’ve also got the ‘shake it like you mean it’ gay strip club Silverado and several other hip-and-happening joints.
One such joint – perhaps the hippest and happening’ist – is Tube. Shaped like its name, Tube is an understated, laid back bar where you can enjoy the company of friends with a delicious drink while a DJ spins smooth tunes.
The lighting is dim, yet modern; the seating comfortable and the atmosphere lively, with a strong pour on the drinks, for posterity, of course. You might indulge in an old-fashioned in this decidedly new-fashioned establishment.
Better yet, for those discerning Portland foodies on a particular diet, not only does Tube offer fancy cocktails and a slick interior design philosophy, but you can grab yourself a vegan meal as well.
At the helm of Tube’s success is owner Eric Bowler, who runs the business along with his wife Karen Bowler. Yet running a slick Old Town lounge wasn’t always Eric’s first life choice.
“I spent over a decade traveling the world DJ’ing under the moniker of DJ Evil One,” he says.
And although he wound up trading in his turntables for ledger books, he still spends a small amount of time doing shows.
It sure must be hard, however, considering he is running a local business empire. That’s right, Tube isn’t his only Portland Metro business endeavor.
He and his wife also own Fortune, in collaboration with ChefStable group, which is another hip Old Town cocktail bar located in the iconic Hung Far Low Building on NW Couch and 4th Avenue. Fortune has the energy of a club, but is even a bit more relaxed than Tube. Inside lines are clean and the space is quite inviting.
Next up on the Bowler’s list of business holdings is the new and already-renowned Korean eatery Revelry, where James Beard Finalists Rachel Yang and Seif Churchi whip up epicurean delights with a culinary master’s touch. With such delectable treasures as smoked oyster pancakes and Dan Dan noodles on the menu, this is one trip to the Far East you have to add to your West Coast itinerary.
Yet, despite having to hopping bars and a Portland-famous Korean restaurant under his belt, Eric is a DJ at heart and always has music on the mind. The beats are in his blood, which led him down the road of his fourth venture, The Music Trust, which he operates in collaboration with other artists, entrepreneurs and, as he calls them “taste makers.”
The Music Trust essentially serves as a trusted source for booking musicians and DJs, whether it be for a nightclub, live music venue or other event. What sets them apart from other booking agencies is their focus on the eclectic and desire to push music innovation, curation and consulting within in the Portland market. Judging by the hopping scene, their work appears to be paying off.
So, with all these business pokers in Portland’s cultural fire, does Eric have time for anything else?
“My spare time is spent almost entirely being a dad, which is without a doubt my most favorite thing in life,” he replies without hesitation.
Apparently, it is possible to raise a family and run a thriving business empire in Portland – although, this is something we’ve seen before.
In addition to running successful businesses and focusing on his family, the Bowlers also work on making our fair city a better place to live.
“I got involved with a group trying to figure out how to make NW 2nd and 3rd more pedestrian friendly which resulted in adding bike lanes, changing parking and adding crosswalks at a multitude of intersections,” he explains.
“My wife and I have been very involved with trying to get more help for the city’s most vulnerable residents – who are living on the street – while at the same time trying to create a neighborhood where people can feel safe coming to work or living,” he concludes.
So, next time you are our partying in Old Town, contemplating the unfortunate nature of the homeless population, or noticing the changes happening on NW 2nd and 3rd in Old Town, keep Eric Bowler and his wife Karen in mind. Their contributing to the thriving fabric of our fair city in a number of ways. Then stop on by Tube, Fortune or Revelry and have a taste of some PDX People love.
William Bessette – PDX People Contributor
William Bessette is a journalist and freelance writer who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over thirteen years. When he’s not profiling Portland-area restaurants and residents, you can find him reporting on national and international travel and eco-tourism through his travel brand, Floppy Hat Adventures.