Portland’s jazz scene suffered a major loss to ring in the New Year. Jimmy Makarounis, the longtime owner of famed Portland jazz venue Jimmy Mak’s, has died after a prolonged battle with cancer.
His death comes days after Jimmy Mak’s closed down so Makarounis could focus on his treatment.
“Our beloved friend and mentor, Jimmy Makarounis passed away early Monday morning after a prolonged battle with cancer,” a statement from Jimmy Mak’s staff read. “He will be remembered by those who knew and loved him for his kindness, tenacity and unending generosity. We will carry on in his absence with his spirit in our hearts.”
For nearly 20 years, Jimmy Mak’s was the place to go for live jazz and blues in Portland. The small venue nestled in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District was one of the last surviving jazz clubs in the Rose City before closing on Dec. 31, 2016.
“Our building had sold last year, and so we were in the process of preparing to move into a new location right around the corner,” Jimmy Mak’s bar manager JD Stubenberg recently told OPB’s “Think Out Loud.”
“Jimmy has been battling throat cancer for about four years now, and he was going through the process of treatment and recovery. Unfortunately this fall, his condition worsened significantly and his doctors came to him and said, ‘You need to stop working and focus all your energy on just getting healthy.’”
Jimmy Mak’s marked its closing with a performance from local funk ban Soul Vaccination, a regular performer at the club.
Makarounis is survived by his wife and two children.