By: Michelle Miley
Downtown Eugene has become a host for multiple venues allowing all those over 21 to enjoy the night life. Whether you’re grabbing a beer at Luckey’s Club, dancing the night away at Cowfish or grabbing a slice of pizza at Sizzle Pie, it is hard to run out of options.
Whether you’re cruising the “Bermuda Triangle” or having a casual drink with friends, downtown Eugene is the new place to be. With an increase in University college students and businesses, downtown is thriving more than ever, especially the night life. If you were to go out downtown, let’s say about ten years ago, things would probably not be as exciting as they are right now. Yes, there would be the classic spots such as John Henry’s and Luckey’s Club, but where would you go to dance? Where would you go for a late night snack once all the bars have closed? Today those questions can be easily answered; Cowfish and Sizzle Pie. Downtown Eugene has blossomed into a whole new realm of night life.
With a curiosity for how these bars, both old and new, are doing during this recent flux of people and businesses, I went out and sat down with a few employees at most of the local hot spots. First stop was Luckey’s Club, located on Olive Street, which is one of the oldest bars, not only in Eugene, but in the whole state of Oregon. It has been open for 100 years and I had the chance to speak to one of the bartenders, Brian Chin. He has only been working here for a short six months but I asked him if Luckey’s keeps a rather older crowd or if college students have been on the rise.“I just noticed that I had fifteen fresh 21 year old guys come in and shoot pool and said they were all from the UO, but that was the first time it has ever happened to me on a day shift here,” says Chin. “Obviously a lot of big busin esses are moving in, a lot of the spots are getting redone and a lot of new places are opening up,” Chin added. Luckey’s is rather spacious with pool tables, a stage and remnants of what used to be a popular, classic cigar shop in the 1900s, one that women weren’t even allowed into. Will older bars such as Luckey’s Club suffer as a result of the new, more modern bars moving into downtown?
What used to be the well known John Henry’s nightclub is not even in existence anymore. People used to go their for dancing and the popular GLAM (Gay, Lesbian, Bi and More) nights but a completely new establishment has taken over. What used to be John Henry’s is now known as Sidelines. The space was completely remodeled and is now a very modern sports bar. As you walk in you’ll probably find some college boys playing a game of giant Jenga, Connect Four, foosball or even beer pong. It is the perfect sports bar for college students. I spoke with Brianne Lagumina, a very enthusiastic bartender who started working here just a couple months after they opened this past October.”It’s a different atmosphere than the local bars around here. I feel like it’s more for interaction and not more about who you’re hanging out with. I feel like more of the other bars have a different style I guess. You go to Cowfish and you dance, you go to Davis’s and you dance, you go to Jameson’s and you hang out but it’s kind of an older crowd there,” Lagumina says. After talking further with Lagumina I found that a lot of the sports bars in town are of the same owners so they have their own thing going on without many competitors, except a tap house down the street. It is a completely different vibe in here than in Luckey’s Club, which probably accounts for the completely different crowd.
Just a few years ago, there was no after party once it hit 2:30 AM. When the bars closed it was officially time to head home. Now you may continue your night even further at Sizzle Pie. This pizza place sells both pizza and beer; it even stays open until 4:00 AM. Sizzle Pie is located in both Portland and Eugene. It has created a place for people to meet up after a late night out, grab something to eat and make it home safely. I spoke with Dan Gomez on the morning after his 30th birthday. Gomez has been working at Sizzle Pie since June 14th of last year when they first opened and he also works just down the street at Cowfish, the local dancing hot spot. “We’re in a really good spot to catch a lot of different sub categories of people. I think that they tend to be similar to the Portland ones which are really destination spots before the concert and after the concert,” says Gomez about Sizzle Pie. “Even when we stop serving alcohol people still tend to gather here. It’s like your local watering hole. You can meet with friends who went to a different bar and eat pizza together. It’s different because there are food carts, but it doesn’t shelter you from the rain and it gives you an extra hour sometimes when you need that time to collect yourselves, eat and get home safe. It’s almost like a public service,” he later added. Gomez also comments about his surprise on the broad range of customers they get age wise. He thought it would be a rather younger crowd but they tend to get all ages coming in.
The new bars have been taking over the downtown night life. Yes, local favorites like Luckey’s Club and Jameson’s are still a hit but that tends to be more favorable for the older crowd. If you’re a University of Oregon student looking for a night out downtown, venture into Sidelines, The Barn Light, Sizzle Pie, etc. and you will fit right in!
Q&A with Dan Gomez, bar tender at Sizzle Pie and Cowfish.
Q: How long have you been working at Sizzle Pie?
DG: Here, it will be a year on June 14th, almost a year since it has opened.
Q: Did you find that over time the crowd has changed to more college students or has it always been pretty diverse?
DG: We’re in a really good spot to catch a lot of different sub categories of people. I think that they tend to be similar to the Portland ones which are really destination spots before the concert and after the concert. And we’re also right in the middle of the bermuda triangle. We do have those buildings over there right by the library, they’re not for Lane, but you have to be a student to live in there, so thats brings some business. I can always tell when kids are not from town. I thought it would be a lot younger crowd but we get mid thirties and forties, so I thought it was going to be specifically teenagers and people in their twenties but its actually this huge spectrum. Friday’s we have the art walk so we get a lot of business from that and t that crowd is generally a lot older.
Q: Do you find that at night on the weekends it turns into more of a bar here, especially after all the other ones have closed?
DG: So people get kicked out of the bars around 2:00 AM, so we don’t serve any alcohol at a certain point but it does have that night life club scenario, probably from 11:30 or midnight on Friday and Saturday evenings. Even when we stop serving alcohol people still tend to gather here. It’s like your local watering hole. You can meet with friends who went to a different bar and eat pizza together. It’s different because there are food carts but it doesn’t shelter you from the rain and it gives you an extra hour sometimes when you need that time to collect yourselves, eat and get home safe. It’s almost like a public service.
Q: Do you have any competitors?
DG: Not anymore. Other pizza places have different schedules than us. If we did, it would be Sy’s or Luna, but not really. They don’t have the same scenario as we do. We have the destination, location and space.
Q&A with Celeste Salazer, employee at Rogue.
Q: How long has Rogue been open?
CS: Rogue has been open in general for 25 years but I am not sure about this pub specifically. I wanna say between 10 and 15 years but I don’t know exact dates.
Q: How long have you been working here?
CS: A year and a half.
Q: Do you think that downtown’s night scene is beginning to flourish and grow?
CS: No, not us, not Rogue. Everywhere else is very busy, especially Saturday nights.
Q: So would you say you get less business on the weekends?
CS: Friday nights it gets busy because we have trivia and then Saturday night it just gets kind of empty.