Oh, hello there. How you doing, how you been, what’s good, what’s new? Me? Pfft, same stuff different day with a few new characters and reprisals from the regular players. You know what it is. Oh you don’t? Trust me, these cryptic metaphors are just a method for me to get in a groove to write (which is something I need to do more of. Tell me if you’ve heard me say that before? You remember how it ended? Yeah, me neither.) Things are things, the weather outside is weather, an electron isn’t an electron isn’t an electron. I’ll unpack these words at a later post, but what I want to focus on today is the power of recommendations and the power of reviews.
To me, giving a recommendation is something I get great joy out of offering. It is a chance for me to open myself up, be vulnerable by sharing things I enjoy greatly and also open other’s minds to something new. I also get really excited and energetic when recommending something because it is something I’m willing stand behind staunchly. You know how awesome it is to recommend something to a friend, have them experience said something and come back saying, “ermahgerd, this was awesome and blew my mind and wow what?!?” It is incredibly gratifying. Oh course not every recommendation hits, and you just roll with the punches and keep it movin’. It’s at this point, reviews are important. It helps show where the mark was missed or has been missed. It allows for growth and change through self-reflection, re-commitment to looking over processes that may be causing inefficiencies and reaffirming the good that is happening. Today’s post is a combination of a recommendation I have been making for years, a recommendation many of my friends have said they enjoyed or enjoy and recommend to others as well, and reviewing whether or not that recommendation holds weight anymore. Wow, that sounds bleaker than it actually is… though I think if one experience is shared by multiple people, it is enough to question the validity of a recommendation.
Last night, to celebrate the last night of camaraderie and the end of a fantastic engagement party weekend, our group decided to go to The Alibi karaoke bar. Usually I talk this place up like it is the only place I will go in this city. I’ve gone on random Tuesdays with my Prost peeps, celebrated Independence Day with a mai-tai and had my 25th, 26th, and 28th birthdays there. So yeah, you could say The Alibi and I are going steady because of how often it has been there for my birthday. Yes, I said steady #happydaysvernacular. The Alibi has been under new management for the last year plus, and you can definitely notice the changes if you’ve been a regular. The carpet is new, they fixed a few of the booths, the KJ’s booth looks dope with the new regalia, they added a new TV that hangs in the front of the stage and they now have a patio (because Portland bars absolutely need patios to survive).
Now, The Alibi is a hopping place on the weekend, this is no lie, people know this, the staff knows this and management (I think or I hope) knows this. If you want a seat for public karaoke, it behooves you to get there by at least 8:30ish before they open the room for a prompt 9pm start. Saturday was no exception, but the only exception is that the service was not exceptional #gratuitoususeofthewordexception. So much so that I was pretty miffed and disappointed that I wrote a Yelp review. I have never written a Yelp review despite often saying I will or that, “I’m going to write this place a stern letter” and not doing it (much like saying I will write for this blog and… then… well, you know how that movie ends). This experience was one of my worst experience I have had in my 8 years going to this place (and I’ve blacked out in a booth there!). To compound the issue, I talked it up so heavily and worked to get the group to come out, that the way it ended was poetically sinister. I’d like to share that review with you in this piece.
The Alibi is a very important place to me in this city as my go-to karaoke spot, as a place that I extol its virtues to my friends, and a karaoke joint that is quite high on the list of karaoke joints in Portland. I’d rather go to The Alibi than Voicebox, Chopsticks, Cheerful Tortoise, Sweet Home Bar and Grill or “name-a-place” to sing my jams. This Saturday, August 26th, 2017, was my worst experience as a patron of The Alibi. It was also embarrassing for me to have recommended The Alibi and to have it end up being such an awful experience for my friends. I understand and know how busy and crowded The Alibi gets on the weekends. I have been going there for years and I understand the drill. 8/26/2017 was an absolute debacle in terms of service and ambiance. I was with a large group of friends who are in town from Louisiana for an engagement party. I was jazzed to show them this place that is very near and dear to me. My friends posted up in the table area to the right of the entrance and sat there waiting for service for over 20-25 minutes. They received no service and within the next 5 minutes decided that The Alibi was not the spot for them and they left. The entire party of ~15 people left to go to Mississippi Ave to experience another area of Portland nightlife.
I was extremely disappointed and disheartened at the lack of servers and bartenders to handle the Saturday crowd. To management: you know the product you have, you know the place you have, you know how busy you get, you know your popularity—it is inexcusable to be that ill-equipped and ill-prepared to serve, especially for a weekend night. I have noticed the changes since management has switched hands, I love the improvements, the aesthetic changes, etc. I personally want to continue coming to The Alibi and patronizing a bar that has been very good and is special to me… but the service needs to get better. I love Paul, grand master KJ extraordinaire; I love Chad, easily one of my favorite servers/hosts in the city; I love listening to Yanni (a regular) belt out “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce. It is hard to experience, enjoy and share these moments with my friends if we are unable to be served or get service.
(Lastly and unrelated to service, I am disappointed that The Alibi no longer does private reservations for karaoke. I also found this out yesterday, the 26th. Here where it gets interesting: the website says, “Sorry, we are not taking reservations at this time.” “At this time” is not a definitive statement, and my interpretation is that it could be decided at a later time to again accept reservations. I called to ask about private reservations and was told that The Alibi does not do them. I asked if it was a permanent decision or if it was an indefinite decision. I was told it is a permanent decision. Alibi, you have to take down that statement regarding private reservations or edit it to say “no reservations.”
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! As I was outside speaking with the bouncer about the experience we were all having, I brought up the fact there are no private reservation. This caused his eyebrow to raise and he expressed that I may have been told misinformation; we both talked with a bartender who couldn’t confirm or deny whether private reservations still occur at The Alibi. Private reservations at The Alibi were awesome, inexpensive and easy to split (the entire karaoke room to yourself with your group for $45/hr), and a great way to reserve and have seating before public karaoke starts at 9. It is a shame that it is no longer an option in North Portland, and I would argue that it is one of the qualities that made The Alibi what it is in the hearts and minds of Portlanders.)
I don’t know if I’ll be going back to The Alibi soon. It will be a moment to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. Until then, I think I’m just going to keep thinking of things to write about for y’all.