Tiki lounge comes to Portland this winter


Owners of Rhum from left to right, Nat Towl, Jason Loring (with Mugsy) and Mike Fraiser show off their underground lair.

Looking for a hot zone in a cold clime? By the time the snowbanks mount, your umbrella drink and charcuterie pop-poo platter will be ready at Rhum. The brains behind Portland’s Nosh, Slab and Bramhall are at it again with Rhum, a Polynesian lounge and tiki bar opening underneath Arabica Coffee on Free Street in the Old Port.

“It’s about food, drinks, atmosphere and the experience,” said Nat Towl, co-owner and designer of the space in mid-construction. When the doors open in January, Portlanders will be transported to the sunny tropics shrouded in speakeasy cool. Barrels of rum lining the ramp entrance will give guests the sensation of “walking onto a ship” said co-owner Jason Loring, who wants to bring Portland’s lounge scene back. “It’s about escapism.”


Thatched roof en route

Once inside the large 122-seat, brick-walled space with serpentine seating, the staycation begins. “The whole appeal of the experience of a basement bar is that you have to earn it,” said Towl, who designed Slab and Elsmere BBQ’s mod, yet comfortable interiors.

Finding your way to the thatched roof bar, where crab legs and other world class fish will tempt from a giant raw bar, might be hard on weekends. Harkening to the rum running Prohibition area, Rhum is poised for popularity.

Chef Frank Anderson of local catering company The Hunter’s Bend has been hired to create a fresh take on Polynesian fare. Though few menu details are out, Loring says “we are not taking the Polynesian theme lightly.” Think kaya toast, a Singapore and Malaysian delicacy, and creative plays on poo-poo platters. Where there’s sterno, there’s fire!

Rhum will be a place to chill before a show at the Cross Insurance Arena (one block west) and to ward off the blistering cold with a mai tai, but food is not a backdrop. “Our goal is to bring things to Portland that are awesome,” said Loring.

He hasn’t failed us yet.


Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.