A Review of Hopworks Bikebar
(Hopworks Bikebar has a sister pub in SE Portland on Powell. This is a review of the pub on N. Williams.)
Family Friendly Features: Play area for toddlers; happy hour daily 3-6pm; family restroom (out-of-order when we visited though, so I don’t know what was inside); diaper changing station in bathroom; trendy North Portland location; and large patio area (it’s January though, so this area is currently closed)
Family Un-friendly Features: Only 3 bathrooms (counting the family restroom); cannot accommodate parties of more than 6 easily; off-street parking only
Our Experience: It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon, perfect for happy hour with some friends and family. We head to North Pdx to get some food and good beer (my husband and I are amateur beer snobs and only drink IPA’s, so good beer is integral to a good happy hour). My husband, two kids and I arrive at the same time as my sister-in-law, her husband and their 22-month old. We are still expecting our friends with their 2 and a half-year old and 13-month old. We tell our hostess we have 6 adults and 5 kids total (3 highchairs and 2 boosters). “Ohhhh. Let me see about that.” She returns, and in a not-so-accommodating way tells us, “our only tables right now are already taken, and they are here for the game, so they won’t be leaving for awhile.” (In hindsight, this should have been the cue to leave, but we were eager to get our happy hour on.) Our hostess kindly sits us in a booth that sorta fits our current party, but definitely could not fit our friends who were yet to arrive. We are hoping the booth next to us will soon be empty, and we order a pitcher of beer. My 16-month old is not ready to be confined to a high chair and starts to cry-scream, he wants to play, and we specifically chose this pub because of the play area. Well, it’s way at the other end of the room, so this just isn’t going to work. We make a decision that we will split up into two separate areas, one in a booth right next to the play area, and a table nearby. Immediately after moving, an additional booth opens up right next to the play area. Score for us, we can all sit together with our friends who are on the way, well kind of, a little cramped, but better than our table for 7. So wrong, not a score for us! We get serious attitude from our server for moving and my husband is questioned, “how many times are you guys going to move, it really effects other people coming in with their seating.” Ummm, we haven’t even got to order more than a pitcher of beer Lady. Sorry we can’t fit our party of 11 into a space for 7. WTH? Shouldn’t you be happy we have our kids near the play area instead of having to stand over here, in the way of your wait staff to supervise them because your hostess seated us across the room! Oh look, our friends are here. We all fit in these two booths, at least while our kids are having a good time in the play area, but what’s going to happen when we eat and have to add them back in these booths? And maybe that’s not worth wondering anyway, because our waitress appears really disinterested in taking our order. Oh look, that table we were told wouldn’t be opening up has now opened up. Interesting. The game isn’t near being over, but a long time has passed I guess, maybe 20 minutes. Yes we are moving, yes again. From there it only takes 10 more minutes for us to flag down our waitress so we can order some food and some more beer (1 pitcher does not last long with 4 adults drinking.) Fast forward an hour and we have finally finished up our food. Fast forward another 30 minutes, and we finally have our tab paid. Almost a full 2.5 hours spent at this happy hour adventure. Our bill was hardly happy hour though costing a little over $60 for my husband, kids and me. This was the tab for two pitchers of beer, 5 happy hour plates, and 2 kids meals. Dirty Bird prices and food seem like paradise now, they treat me like royalty and have even called me “malady” after handing over that Red Robin Royalty card.
My Recommendation: This may be a shocker after reading our experience, but I would not recommend this place. It was nice to have a little kids play area, but it’s small and you still have to supervise closely, which means if you get seated far away, you’re out of luck. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough for me to consider going back. I heard the burgers were good from those in our party who had them. The kids meals came with 6 french fries, and I usually order only one meal and have my children split it, so I’m glad I ordered them each their own or else they would have still been hungry afterwards. Also, the time it took for us to put our orders in, get our food, and then get our bill was ridiculous. The only positive thing for me: the beer was good, meeting my amateur beer snob requirements.
Instead of going to happy hour here, you can get a similar experience at home. Invite some friends over, buy some Hopworks beer from your grocery store. Put all the kids in a 5×5′ space with some toys, and give them dirty looks if they step outside this area. Serve mediocre appetizers (go ahead and give some extra love to the burgers ), but make your friends wait a long time before letting them eat. And take turns ignoring each other and giving each other attitude. If everyone agrees when they leave that they felt unwelcome and never want to return, you know you were successful.
Please feel free to share your experiences at Hopworks Bikebar below.
UPDATE: I contacted BikeBar to make a formal complaint through their Facebook webpage, and they offered me a gift certificate. They also identified who are server was and said they would be speaking with her. It’s a nice gesture, and appreciated, but we still won’t be going back.