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Future of iconic Irish pub Kells in downtown Portland unclear

The Glisan Building, which houses the iconic Irish pub, is up for sale. The listing says the building will be "delivered vacant" to the buyer.
Credit: Cathy Cheney/Portland Business Journal
Kells owner Gerard McAleese with his son Garrett.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The future of Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub, the iconic downtown Portland eatery in the Glisan Building, is unclear in light of a recent real estate listing.

It starts with a line in a building sale ad.

Gerard and Lucy McAleese, who own Kells, have also owned the Glisan Building at 112 S.W. Second Ave. since 1990 but have been trying to sell it since at least 2020. When that news came out, they had planned to offload the building but continue running the business inside.

But the property listing now states: “Though the Glisan Building will be delivered vacant upon sale, it is currently home to renowned Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub, presenting an excellent opportunity for a restaurant/bar, event space, or creative office space.”

Reached by phone briefly on Thursday, Gerard McAleese voiced uncertainty over the future of the operation, saying he had not made a decision on it, and it was still up in the air. He said the main goal was to sell the building. He declined to comment further on Friday.

McAleese founded Kells in Seattle in 1983, expanding the pub to Portland in 1990, then San Francisco in 1996. Kells also runs a brewery at 210 N.W. 21st Ave. in Portland. “These past few months, we’ve taken a long look at our life and which direction we want to go, and it’s time to pass the baton,” McAleese said in 2020 when the building was put up for sale.

Read the full story at the Portland Business Journal.

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