Jimmy Mak’s, Portland’s long-running Pearl District jazz venue, is closing its doors. The announcement came on Monday, November 28 from Jimmy Makarounis, the venue’s eponymous longtime owner, who says the final show will take place on New Year’s Eve this year.
Jimmy Mak's was already preparing for a move to a nearby venue next year—the second such move in under 10 years—but Makarounis says health concerns made him reconsider.
“I am currently undergoing immunotherapy treatments for cancer of the larynx, which has intensified in the past five weeks,” he posted on Jimmy Mak’s website. “My doctors insist that I step away from Jimmy Mak’s business to focus solely on healing.”
A Portland staple since 1996, Jimmy Mak’s has hosted a slew of transcendent artists—among them legendary saxophonist Benny Golson and local stalwarts Chuck Israels and Mel Brown. It’s not just one of the city’s best joints for jazz—it even got a shout-out from Down Beat magazine in 2013 as one of the 150 jazz clubs “you must visit."
Yet even as Portland reels from the news, all may not be lost: Makarounis’s farewell announcement is also an invitation for anyone ready to take up the mantle. The buildout in the new space on NW Everett was already funded and underway—all it needs is someone to steer it into its new era.
“There is still an opportunity for another owner/operator to step in to fund and finish the buildout of the new location and carry on the Jimmy Mak’s brand,” Makarounis says. “We welcome any offers to do so.”
If no takers emerge for a venue that has become locally synonymous with jazz—a genre still capable of “washing away the dust of everyday life,” as drummer Art Blakey once said—then plan a night out at Jimmy Mak’s before the end of the year.
As of now, the last show is scheduled on New Year’s Eve: Portland’s own 12-piece Jazz ensemble, Soul Vaccination, is slated to play Jimmy’s out.