‘Heartbreaking’: Saturday events canceled over protest

Multnomah County

Kells Irish Pub and Restaurant pulled the plug on its annual Summer Smoker boxing match

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Businesses in downtown Portland are making last-minute changes ahead of Saturday’s planned protest.

Opposing groups are expected to gather in a square area hemmed by Southwest Alder Street, Southwest Madison Street, Southwest 4th Avenue and the waterfront.

Portland police are asking anyone not actively participating in the protest to avoid the area.

One popular restaurant has heeded the bureau’s warning and canceled its biggest event of the summer.

Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub on Southwest 2nd Avenue is no stranger to canceling plans due to protests. In 2017 alone, the pub was forced to close 7 times after the surrounding streets devolved into chaos during demonstrations.

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Kells Irish Pub St. Patrick’s Day Smoker, March 2019. (KOIN)

Kells’ annual Summer Smoker boxing match was supposed to happen this Saturday.

But the pub’s owner decided to cancel the event for the safety of customers. The decision is one that comes at a steep price.

Owner Gerard McAleese told KOIN 6 News the boxing match brings in 500 people every year and about $70,000. He said he’s already refunded $24,000 to guests.

“People can’t come down here that whole Saturday,” McAleese said. “We have lost a whole Saturday and that is the big cry from employees and the extra expenses that we have to go through as a business owner.”

Kells Irish Pub and Restaurant owner Gerard McAleese, Aug. 15, 2019. (KOIN)

Four people were arrested and a number of people were injured during last summer’s protests between the same groups that will take to the streets on Saturday.

“That was the icing on the cake for me,” McAleese said. “Okay, we are done. We are going to pull the plug.”

Kells will remain open on Saturday. But without the event, which usually requires all-hands-on-deck, the pub will be run by a skeleton crew of 5 — including extra security.

“We have over 40 employees that come in from security to servers. They don’t get that money,” McAleese said. “There is a big impact and not to mention our good customers don’t get a great evening in downtown Portland.”

Other events that have been relocated or postponed include the Roses on the River 5K, a Growler Guys scavenger hunt and a party hosted by Street Roots.

“It’s really heartbreaking that we are dealing with this in Portland, Oregon,” said McAleese. “Hopefully it will be dealt with the right way and they will not be coming back.”

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