Since the 1930s, The Lazy Eye has been a Forest Grove staple. Then, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, the bar closed their doors, unsure of when or if they would be opening. On August 1, 2021, The Lazy Eye reopened, and it looks a little different.
The owner, Mindy Schlegel-Yeargin worked tirelessly to bring her business back to life again. The venue now includes a seating area, foosball tables, cornhole, darts, billiards, and home-cooked meals.
As I settled into the bar, billiards games behind me and basketball games in front, Schlegel-Yeargin was in the middle of making her nacho cheese sauce.
“We had to get creative,” she said. “We wanted a place for people to hang out and have something to do, since everyone’s been stuck at home or in a dorm room.”
Another feature of The Lazy Eye was their strong connection to other local businesses. Their ice cream from Alpenrose in Portland, Ore. Plants in the windows from Market Maeve in Forest Grove, Ore. Schlegel-Yeargin is even printing some of her own artwork at Gann Bros. Printing, right next door to the Lazy Eye
It wasn’t easy to get to this point, though. Schlegel-Yeargin ended up having to borrow $15,000 to reopen her business after the pandemic closed everything.
“Since we are an entertainment venue, we had to wait until May of 2021 to reopen again, when everyone else was also opening,” she said. “If we close again I can’t borrow another $15,000. I can’t afford it.”
People are happy that The Lazy Eye is back open, and Schlegel-Yeargin plans to keep it that way. She’s got a lot of plans in the works, and more ways to bring more people into her venue. She’s in the middle of orchestrating an Open Mic Night, as well as barbecues and more games. She knows that the home-cooked meals appeal to the students.
“I was vegetarian when there was no such thing 25 years ago, and had to figure everything out,” Schlegel-Yeargin said. “My daughter was ill 10-11 years ago, and I had to make everything by myself. Luckily the things we can’t buy in stores, I can make.”
Schlegel-Yeargin is currently in her senior year of studying anthropology at Portland State University. She decided to go back to school after asking herself, “If money wasn’t a problem, what would I want to study?” While balancing both her education and the reopening of The Lazy Eye can’t be easy, she is excited to see more faces, and hopes they can come to her bar to relax, unwind, and enjoy themselves. — Ella Cutter
Ella Cutter is a senior staff writer for the Index. She is currently pursuing degrees in journalism and editing and publishing, and also works for the downtown Portland indie press zines + things.