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Nontraditional Meeting Spaces Packed with Personality

When the venue is as entertaining and vibrant as your presentation

As we continue to navigate pandemic-era business travel, the shift to smaller scale get-togethers and meetings will likely continue to be on the mind of many planners and companies as we head into the new year. According to a study conducted by Cvent and GBTA in April 2021, simple meetings could recover faster than large events. Approximately fifty-two percent of respondents anticipated that the number of in-person small meetings - with 50 or fewer attendees - at their companies will return to the pre-pandemic levels within one year.

In true Portland fashion, you’ll find a robust selection of flexible spaces packed with personality, charm and imbued with local artisanal touches courtesy of local makers, designers, and artists. For those looking for beautiful backdrops for their next board meeting or a standout venue for pre-conference networking, here are a few top-of-the-line locations to choose from in and around the city.

Locales for brewing (fermenting or distilling) great ideas:

Opened in late-summer 2021, Steeplejack Brewing Co. is a case study in imaginative adaptive renovations. Located in the Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood of NE Portland, this project successfully turned a century-old church into a handsome brewery, full of historical charm. Light from colorfully stained-glass windows warms the space and its vaulted ceilings and showstopping steeple add plenty of character. Reserve one of the small gathering rooms dotting the perimeter or rent the whole space (available to do so a couple of times a year).

Aimsir Distilling Company opened softly in December 2020 in the Kerns neighborhood of Southeast Portland. The distillery offers an intimate mezzanine loft area ideal for small gatherings or the ability to rent out the full space. It’s art deco design and vibrant emerald green plant offer a nod to the family’s Irish heritage. Here, you’ll get a peek at the distilling process from the main bar area, as you sip their selection of artfully crafted and accessible spirits, like their Cold Brew Bourbon.

Aesthete Teahouse’s light, airy and minimalist design leaves plenty of room for great meetings of the minds and intimate gatherings, fueled by expertly crafted tea blends. Aesthete was founded by owner Briana Thornton in 2017. All of the teas are sourced farm direct, and Briana’s tea recipes are made in collaboration with her mother, a folk healer and herbalist, Maggie Cassidy. The teahouse can be rented for a couple of hours or for a full day depending on your needs.

Opened in January 2022, Amaterra - meaning “for the love of the Earth - is Portland’s newest urban winery featuring a 12-acre vineyard, chef-driven restaurant, outdoor event lawn and expansive valley views to boot, all just minutes from downtown in Portland’s West Hills. Amaterra offers an intimate and exclusive experience for meetings and events with flexible spaces including the Skyline Room, Terrace Lawn or Barrel Room for private tastings.

For Artfully Inspired Meetings & Gatherings:

Lolo Pass opened on Portland’s buzzy East Burnside Avenue in May 2021. What’s described as a fusion of international host experience and American hospitality standards is the perfect spot to mix it up. The Art Gallery features an array of work from Portland’s creative community of underrepresented artists. Accessible via street level, the space can accommodate nearly 40 people with A/V capability for presentation needs. Rent out the roof top for a dual location setting and views of downtown.

A Day in the Life Gallery is the brainchild of husband and wife duo – and owners of bespoke tailors Wildwood & Co – Joe and Holly Mueller. The new gallery of fine crafts opened in 2021 in the heart of downtown Portland. The rich, oak-shelved gallery showcases a carefully curated collection of 40 different artists spanning glass art, ceramics, weaving, metalwork and more – designed to educate and celebrate the level of craftsmanship gone into these time-honored trades. Leading from their gallery via Bond-like sliding door into their elegant fitting room where the tailormade magic happens, the event experience flows together in two distinct and intimate settings.

For Inspiring Friendly Competition & Team Building:

Part game room, part event space, Hotel Zags’ Colosseum offers a laid-back vibe for casual meetings and informal get-togethers in downtown Portland. The space features projectors to telecast presentations alongside a pool table, shuffle boards and life-size table games like Connect4, consider this an ideal option for tailgating to team building.

Perhaps a bit unconventional but no less fun is craft workshop meets bar concept, DIY Bar. Craft with your colleagues at their studio in NE Portland choosing from more than a dozen DIY options with locally made beverage in hand.

Outdoor Gatherings:

Founded by farmer and Chef Stacey Givens, Side Yard Farms offers a unique event setting in Portland’s NE Cully neighborhood. What started as small plot farming in 2009 has grown into a successful operation feeding upwards of 15,000 people per year through restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, donations, catering, and farm events. Givens’ mission remains committed to fostering community resilience and providing a safe and inclusive space for all identities. On-site, their seed-to-farm dining concept and venue can hold up to 60 people and in the colder months, the ability to turn their greenhouses into cozy dining spaces for small parties. On-site catering menu is grown right on the farm, additionally working closely with local farmers and ranchers to source as locally as possible.

With its winding walkways and open pavilions, enveloped by verdant landscape that channels the five elements of traditional Chinese gardens, the Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a one-of-a-kind, Zen-like backdrop for your next event. The lot was transformed by 60 artisans from Portland’s Chinese sister city of Suzhou, working from a centuries-old blueprint to create this authentic Suzhou-style Garden. Rent the Garden for intimate dinners for 20 people or larger receptions for up to 250 guests.