June 27th, 2011 | by CASEY JARMAN Food & Drink |

New Bar Watch: Dig A Pony Slated to Open July 20

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Dig A Pony, the bar set to replace the old Niki’s Restaurant on Morrison and Grand in Southeast Portland, is starting to look like a thoroughbred. Co-owner Aaron Hall showed WW around the space on Sunday, and from the huge horseshoe bar (which he says could seat as many as 40 people) to the building’s new windows and decor (a 110-year-old piano, vintage church pews and custom stained glass work, among other elements), the space looks promising. Hall talked about the bar's aesthetic as a turn-of-the-century/vintage Northwest kind of affair, but he stressed that it wouldn't be a theme bar by any stretch. “We really want it to be a warm, welcoming spot,” Hall says. “A place that has a lot of class for us younger people, but without reflecting it in the price.” 

The new watering hole will also feature nightly DJs—there will be a turntable built into the bar and Hall foresees mostly pre-'90s vinyl in rotation—and a budget-priced menu curated by consulting chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure. Hall says Dig A Pony hopes to open on July 20 (they'll be cutting it very close, though, based on the still-unfinished nature of the space), and while live music isn’t slated for DAP this summer, some of Portland’s finest electronic and pop bands (we were told names; we were also asked not to repeat names) are slated to help celebrate the grand opening.

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Other tidbits recovered from our walk through: "Everything was covered in 90 years of asbestos tile and carpeting, and a lot of mediocre design decisions from the '70s," Hall says. "So we ripped everything out, but when we did, we exposed these old beams and this original tile floor—probably from 1917 when the place was built. It was originally an old pharmacy called Potter’s Drug Company. So we’re just trying to bring it back to that element. We don’t want to be pigeonholed as sort of a speakeasy, but all of our eyes are drawn to a classic look with dark wood."

As for that Beatles-inspired name, Hall says the primary owners (Hall, Jake Carey and Paige Finley—Finley being the Beatles expert) talked over "about a hundred" names, but Dig A Pony just stuck. "I don't know if people will actually call it that," he says. "They'll probably just say Pony or DAP."
 
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