The much-anticipated opening of the Klondike Tavern in St. Helen’s Riverfront is set for 4 p.m. Friday, June 24.
The iconic 8,600-square-foot building along St. Helens’s Riverfront district has been sitting idle since 2018. The building was then listed on the market for $799,000 by Sadaka Realty LLC.
Holcombe Waller, a Portland resident, bought Klondike in late 2021 for $650,000, beginning a massive effort to restore and reopen the structure. The first floor project included the reopening of the dining area.
Waller invited The Chronicle to peek into what was done to renovate the building and prepare it for opening.
“This building has been restored to a much more workable condition than it was,” said Tyler Ryan, manager of Tavern Klondike. “There has been a tremendous amount of building. It is a very old building with good bones. Our goal is to modernize the place and make it family again.”
Ryan describes the decor theme as Old Victorian.
“That seems to be the natural feel of the building,” he said. “I don’t think we wanted to get away from that. We embraced every room and tried to improve on that.”
“We’re excited for people to step in and see how we’ve interpreted the old world charm of this historic space, and how we’re expanding that into a beautiful ambiance, delicious food and signature cocktails,” Waller said.
Ryan describes the Klondike Tavern menu as simple, market-adjusted.
“You would be looking at rustic Northwest, home-style comfort food, fair food in a pub, but we try to make sure our quality and standards are impeccable,” he said. “We are fortunate that we can experiment and find out what people really want here. The food and beverages featured are more likely to be determined by what people like and we can adapt the work to the culture of the city.”
Roughly 15 to 20 employees will support limited openings, and late-evening dinner service, Wednesday through Saturday each week, according to Ryan. The bar seats about 60 people.
“We’re going to make sure everything is optimized perfectly for that little window and then definitely expand from there,” Ryan said. “We first want to see where the business is flowing.”
According to Ryan, pub performing arts are also considered.
“There are always possibilities to do unique and fun things in the bar and restaurant, so that would be an interesting balance for special occasions,” he said. “We are looking forward to taking advantage of those special events and performances. Based on some of our previous experiences, it is certainly possible to have some musicians participate in the performance.”
Ryan said he hopes the city will develop additional street parking in the Riverfront area.
“This will certainly be a great problem and opportunity for everyone in the community to come to the same page in terms of what can be done to address this problem because of the success of everyone hopefully,” he said.
According to Waller, more additions to the building are in progress.
“We hope to revitalize the courtyard area, opening a small bakery and coffee center in the corner (of the construction yard),” he said.
Waller said the hotel is actively being designed and engineered within historical guidelines for city, state and federal agencies that help provide various development incentives.
“The latest grant of $200,000 will lay a foundation to get close to this massive project, but it will take investors and significant lending funding to complete,” Waller said. long. The build itself will likely be a year longer. Therefore, we are looking forward to late 2023 or later for the inaugural announcement.”
Waller said his vision to restore the hotel portion of the Klondike Building includes adding modern seismic life and safety standards and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access to two floors as well as adding 19 bathrooms.
“While preserving the historical aspects of the building that keep the renovation in line with historical standards,” he said. “But if the restaurant is successful, and with that initial state grant going to capital improvements to the building, those will be game-changers,” Waller said. “These are the basic blocks that I try to create before financing the hotel.”
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