PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — McMenamins’ history of owning bars, restaurants, hotels and music venues in Oregon and Washington started in 1983. And for the first time in 40 years, the chain is giving people the full story behind how the brand got its start and how it’s become one of the region’s successful family-run empires.
The storytelling happens in the form of a new podcast: “The Red Shed Tapes.”
Shannon McMenamin, daughter and niece of chain founders Mike and Brian McMenamin, hosts the podcast. She says the owners have considered launching a podcast for a while, but this year felt like the perfect time.
“With our 40th anniversary being this year, it was a great opportunity to just finally go for it and get something out there,” Shannon said. “All of us kids, we work in the company and are a big part of it and have grown up with this as our life and love to hear the stories from both our dad and uncle and we’re just really excited to share that with people.”
In the podcast’s first episode, entitled “Long, Strange Trip,” Shannon chats with company founders Mike and Brian about opening their first location: the Barley Mill Pub.
When they opened the establishment on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard back in 1983, Oregon still had laws against selling beer in the same location that it was brewed. It wasn’t until 1985 that House Bill 2284 passed, and the Barley Mill Pub became one of the first of Portland’s many brewpubs.
Brewpubs are now just one portion of the McMenamins brand that owns more than 50 locations total. From the Grand Lodge ampitheater in Forest Grove to the Elks Temple hotel in Tacoma, the family-run chain has business all over the Pacific Northwest.
“The Red Shed Tapes” will explore this while also telling the story of some of McMenamins’ longtime employees like Thursday Jane and Patrick McNerney. Both Jane and McNerney played a role in the opening of Edgefield’s Little Red Shed, the company’s first small bar and the podcast’s namesake.
Shannon told KOIN 6 that the podcast won’t have a regular schedule, but there’s no shortage of content for future episodes. The show will dive into art, music and architecture as well.
“I think that this podcast will give people a lot of perspective on our company and what we’re trying to do and how involved in our communities we are and how intertwined all of that is, I think that sometimes people don’t really know that and it’s gonna be really exciting to see the response as we share that connectedness,” she said.