FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

McMenamins Fun

Aug 25, 2018

Brian and Mike McMenamin, Portland, Oregon, natives, began building their dynasty of 55 properties — brew pubs, breweries, music venues and historic hotels — in the 1980s. Starting with a single pub, they were ahead of the curve in anticipating the popularity of brew pubs and even helped change Oregon legislation to allow the concept. With properties from Seattle to Southern Oregon and the Pacific Ocean to Central Oregon, collectively they’ve developed one of the top 50 largest craft breweries in the country.

Along the way, their company branched out from creating craft beers to making wine and hard ciders, distilling spirits and house-roasting coffee. They’ve also helped to preserve many historic old buildings, converting everything from old schools, theaters and poor farms into lodging and entertainment hubs brimming with the work of local artists and boasting grounds worthy of botanical gardens. There’s a bit of funk, a bit of whimsy and a good dose of Americana in nearly every McMenamins property, making a visit to each a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

My husband and I joined our daughter Jenny and her husband, Josh, for dinner and a movie at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon — about 25 miles west of Portland — a few weeks ago. (Jenny and Josh got married at another McMenamins — the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, an old dairy farm — last year.) Built in 1922, it was a former Masonic & Eastern Star home, a “rest home” for the elderly, widows and orphans for 77 years, until the last residents moved to a new facility in 1999.

In addition to the Grand Lodge — an imposing and impressive four-story brick building with a classic Greek-style portico with Ionic columns — there are other buildings, including the large Children’s Home, on the well-manicured acreage. Offering 90 guestrooms (most with private baths), there are also two restaurants, several small bars, a spa and soaking pool. Free live music and events crowd the schedule, with outdoor music, movies and dining during the summer months.

We had dinner in the Ironwork Grill, formerly the site of the dining hall, featuring beautiful tilework, woodwork, stained glass and, of course, ironwork. As with other McMenamin properties, some of the work is original to the place, while others have been seamlessly incorporated into it. The menu, featuring produce from the onsite gardens and eggs from the resident chickens, offers a range of items from steaks and pasta to salads and sandwiches.

Afterwards, we strolled the long ramp up to the second floor to take in the new Mission Impossible film, Fallout, in the Grand Lodge Theater. First-run movie tickets are only $9, and with extra-comfy, plush seats and food and beverage service, it was a very pleasant experience. Again, the décor harkens back to the building’s origins, but more recent artwork is incorporated throughout.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and looking for a unique venue for dinner, drinks and entertainment, you might want to find out if there’s a McMenamins near you.

— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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