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'Black Cat' closes forever - with class

by: ERIC NORBERG - Bands performed all day at the closing party of Sellwoods historic Black Cat Tavern - using the pubs back yard gazebo as a stage. The grill was producing hamburgers for the many visitors, while inside the bar was crowded.The history of the Black Cat Tavern – and the even longer history of the Sellwood building in which it has operated for decades – were detailed by Dana Beck in the July BEE. With its closure looming, on August 11 it only remained only for owner Nancy Shire, and the pub’s manager of over twenty years, Deby Ververs, to throw a big farewell party – and it drew a crowd.

The building was sold a couple of years ago to Milwaukie dentist A. Farid Bolouri, who at one time also operated a branch dental office next to the Iron Horse Restaurant in Westmoreland. Bolouri has announced plans to demolish the current structure and replace it with a four-story mixed-use building – with retail space on the ground floor, and three levels of apartments above it.

The new building will presumably take up most of the lot, which previously included a large back yard – but although no parking on the property is required by the city, Bolouri plans to include a few parking spaces for residents to use.

However, on Sunday, August 11th, all that lay in the future. The tavern was packed, and there was a large crowd in the back yard, listening to live bands playing in the gazebo, and filling their plates with hamburgers and other picnic fare provided by the Black Cat.

In mid-afternoon, Gail Hoffnagle, current President of the SMILE neighborhood association located just next door, stopped by to present a “SMILE Award” to owner Shire on the bandstand. It was in recognition of and appreciation for not only of the tavern’s having shared its Internet Wi-Fi signal with SMILE Station for several years at no charge, but also for many other services to the community the business had quietly contributed.

At 9 pm that evening, the last band wrapped up and the back yard cleared; the tavern did remain open for one more week, until Sunday, August 18th. On the day after that, an auctioneer sold everything, including doors, the bar, hardware, and the long “shuffleboard” tables that had for decades been a special feature of the tavern.

Attendees at the closing party included quite a few people in the community who said they had never been there before. More than one said they wished they had found it earlier.