Housed inside a century-old building in North Portland, its remodeled shotgun-style interior lined in warm, lacquered wood and exposed brick, the Oregon Public House follows the standard counter-service model of most brewpubs. But placing an order here comes with one small twist: in addition to food and drinks, guests choose a charity from a rotating cast of six to receive the profits of their order. Since its May 2013 opening, the Oregon Public House has donated more than $164,000 to dozens of local charities.
Since its opening in May 2013, Oregon Public House has raised more than $164,000 for charities through purchases of pub fare and craft drinks.
The idea for this nonprofit pub was hatched in 2009 during a summer barbecue in the backyard of the nonprofit’s president, Ryan Saari. He and his friends wanted to find a way to become more involved in their community, a city that loves craft beer and is home to thousands of nonprofit organizations. So they created a business plan for a pub that ensured employees would be paid a fair wage and vendors would receive a fair price. The board members, however, would work for free and keep their day jobs. After bills were paid, all of the nonprofit’s earnings would benefit six vetted charities chosen twice each year.
Today, Oregon Public House is wildly popular. On a recent Sunday, every booth was filled with families, parents with their sons coming from basketball practice, and old friends. Plates of pub classics like squishy, salt-studded soft pretzels with beer cheese, bar burgers peeking out from beneath blankets of melted Tillamook cheese, and towers of layered nachos emerged from the kitchen. Behind the bar, a dozen taps poured mostly local brews, including four from the pub’s own Aletruism Brewery label. Local wine and ciders plus housemade sodas and lemonade filled out the menu. In the following months, ordering a burger and beer could go toward training service dogs, serving underprivileged youth, or preparing disaster volunteers. It’s as easy as having a pint.