By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Jason Freeman has been coming to M&J Tavern for more than decade.
“It’s a traditional dive bar, which I love. I love being able to sit down, have a conversation with somebody, shoot a little pool, have a beer and it’s not pretentious, it’s not uptight, it’s traditional, old school Bend,” Freeman said Tuesday afternoon between a shot of whiskey and a Coors Light.
But soon, Freeman may have to find a new regular spot for a beer and a game of pool.
If something doesn’t change soon, the Tavern could be closing its doors for good, after nearly 75 years in downtown Bend.
“Last summer, the owner sat down with me and informed me that he was going to be putting it on the market and with that it’s everything included,” said M&J owner CJ Hitchcock. “He gave me the heads up so that I could start really looking at how I would find funding to take care of this.”
The amount of funding Hitchcock needs? A cool $1 million.
It’s enough, Hithcock says, to buy the entire building – which includes the bar and adjoining laundromat – and assure the historic dive bar would remain open.
“There are people coming in to see the Tavern with interest to purchase,” Hitchcock said. “Unfortunately most people are interested only in the property. That doesn’t guarantee that the business will remain here.”
Hitchcock says that, while there’s not technically a hard deadline, she says she’s looking to raise the money, quote, “before anyone else” and there has been some outside interest.
She admits that a million dollars is a steep ask, but adds that she has complete faith in the community.
“There’s a ton of history here, this is one of the oldest bars in town and it’s a classic,” Freeman said.
Hitchcock said she doesn’t often ask her patrons to stay home, but for one night maybe they can just put their bar tab into saving the entire bar.
“If they’re gonna come in and they’re gonna have two beers, put it on the go fund me instead because that guarantees that day you don’t come in, that guarantees that’s here for the rest of the days you want to be here,” she said.