422 West Marine Drive    Astoria, Oregon    503-325-2651

The tavern opened in 1925 as the Portway Café, and in 1931 Jarvinen’s son Paul took over operation. “Portway Paul,” as he was called, became a local legend. A successful professional boxer, smart businessman and all around great person, Paul was loved by Portway patrons. He ran the tavern for more than 50 years until his health failed him in 1984. Portway Paul ran tabs for nearly every customer, and whenever a tab was paid off, would buy the house a round. Old-time Astorians can provide colorful stories about what a truly great person he was, relate fantastic drinking tales, and tell of days when minors drinking in the bar were viewed as little more than kids following a rite of passage to adulthood.

Although Portway Paul is not here in the flesh, his spirit—or someone’s—seems to occupy the Portway. Indeed, one of our bartenders insists that a ghost haunts the basement. So certain is she of this that she refuses to enter it without a phone in hand and someone on the line. Some feel that the “presence” is not the ghost of Paul, but of someone who was shanghaied at the Portway. A trap door under the table at the east end of the bar supports the theory that, indeed, some customers may have received more than s/he bargained for in a drink. That door dumps out within 19 feet of a basement door to the outside world, including ships to Shanghai. The action in “Shanghaied in Astoria,” retold annually at our local playhouse, takes place in the late 1800s, but physical evidence in The Portway seems to suggest that it continued into the 1920s..

The Portway’s fancy staircase and the long hallway upstairs, with bedrooms on the right and bathroom on the left, leave us wondering just exactly what went on upstairs. Tales of sailors and fishermen from the nearby Port about the ‘favors’ of the ‘lovely young ladies’ who ‘bartended’ at The Portway (as well as ‘lived upstairs’) only enhance those suspicions!

Come visit us, and explore the past and present fascinations of the nearly 100-year-old Portway, the oldest watering hole in the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies.

The building that houses the Portway was built in 1923 by Victor Jarvinen. Originally, there was a blacksmith shop in the back, while the Jarvinen family lived on the second floor.