Which McMenamins opened first?

Answered by Robert Golston

The first McMenamins establishment to open its doors was the Barley Mill Pub in 1983. This pub, located in Portland, Oregon, marked the beginning of the McMenamin brothers' foray into the world of craft and hospitality. As a sommelier and brewer, I find it fascinating to explore the origins of breweries and the stories behind their beginnings.

In the early 1980s, the craft brewing scene in Oregon was just starting to gain momentum. The McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, recognized the potential of this emerging industry and decided to take the plunge. They opened the Barley Mill Pub as a place where people could gather and enjoy locally brewed in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

At the time, the laws governing breweries in Oregon were quite restrictive. However, in 1984, a new law was passed that allowed small breweries to sell their products onsite and at a second location. This change in legislation opened up new possibilities for the McMenamin brothers and paved the way for the expansion of their business.

Buoyed by the success of the Barley Mill Pub, the McMenamins set their sights on acquiring a historic property to transform into their next venture. In 1986, they purchased a 125-year-old farmhouse in Hillsboro, Oregon, and turned it into the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. This historic building provided the perfect backdrop for their vision of creating unique and memorable experiences for their customers.

The Cornelius Pass Roadhouse quickly became a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike. With its rustic charm and picturesque surroundings, it offered a one-of-a-kind setting for enjoying McMenamins' craft beers and wines. As a sommelier, I appreciate the attention to detail that goes into creating a memorable drinking experience, and the McMenamin brothers certainly nailed it with their choice of location.

What I find particularly intriguing about the McMenamins' story is their commitment to preserving and repurposing historic properties. Over the years, they have acquired and transformed numerous historic buildings, breathing new life into them while honoring their rich histories. Each McMenamins establishment has its own unique character, reflecting the architectural and cultural heritage of its location.

The Barley Mill Pub was the first McMenamins establishment to open its doors in 1983. It was followed by the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse in 1986, which marked the beginning of the McMenamin brothers' tradition of repurposing historic properties to create memorable drinking and dining experiences. As a sommelier and brewer, I am inspired by their passion for and their dedication to preserving Oregon's rich history.