Whiskey-Happy BBQ Chicken and Wing Bar Coming to North Portland

Haymaker will open this December on North Killingsworth, pairing home cookout food with beers and shots.

The North Killingsworth space once home to Eddie's Flat Iron pizza will soon be home to a whiskey-heavy bar serving up backyard-cookout food like sausages, wings, skewers and barbecue chicken sandwiches, on a bar made in part with wood from an old bowling alley.

"It'll be beer and shots, and simple cocktails," says co-owner Dave Bertelo, starting cook at the business-formerly-known-as-Casa del Matador and a former general manager of downtown's Punch Bowl Social.

Bertelo and co-owner Nick Brown, a longtime bartender at Kells Irish Pub, say they want to serve up casual drinks and food with a lot of care, using local purveyors all the way down to the pepper sauces, sausage and liquor.

They're also making much of their bar out of reclaimed wood from pieces of bygone Portland, including a closed Milwaukie bowling alley.

"We got the lane dividers," says Bertelo. "We're gonna turn those into coffee tables: They're four-inch thick pieces of solid wood. In an homage to Eddie's, we saved wood from the bar that we ripped out, and we're going to use that in our own bar."

The windows, meanwhile, were 60-year-old frames pulled out of Bertelo's old house, while other decor will include repurposed signs, lighting and barn fixtures found at Old Portland Hardware.

But Haymaker will also have a fairly uncommon service model at bars that expect to serve lot of food. Unlike Portland places that have moved toward counter service, Haymaker will obliterate the line between bartenders and cooks to avoid pay inequality between tipped and non-tipped employees.

"It's been a growing issue: the income inequality between front and back of house," Bertelo says. "So we developed a system where all employees are front and back. We'll stick to specialties and make a lot of food heavily prepared ahead of time—braises, pulled barbecue chicken, chicken wings. We can show anybody how to do chicken wings."

This will also show up in the layout: Haymaker's bar will run around to the open kitchen, so at some parts of the bar you'll be sitting around the kitchen watching prep work on the cutting board.

Bertelo and Brown say they hope open Haymaker by December, but if their food license comes in before their liquor license, they may do a few advance tastings for the neighborhood.

"We really want to be a good food outlet for the five or six blocks around our bar," says Bertelo. "They all seem to be really excited and starved for food, so we want to do things like chicken that we can offer at an affordable rate, something great for people who do take-away dinners. It's a perfect thing they can order in advance, pick up and go."

This will be made easier by online ordering:

"As it looks, our website will link up. So people can buy it through the website, come up to the bar and and say, "Hey, I'm picking up for Molly."

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