By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Closed since January, Porter’s Pub will be back soon.
New owner Denny Graue hopes to have the bar at 4820 River Road North ready for a soft opening on May 16, the same weekend as the Keizer Iris Festival. He is hoping for a formal grand opening somewhere around the weekend of June 6 to 8.
“We’re trying to coincide the opening with (Iris Festival),” Graue said. “Maybe we’ll open for a little bit. That would be a good time for us to get a feel for the community.”
Graue and wife Lisa moved from South Carolina to Salem three weeks ago, but this isn’t their first experience in Oregon.
“I was looking at the Keizer/Salem/Portland area for a bar. We drove around in December,” said Graue, who has lived most of his life in Arizona. “We knew this was the area we wanted to move to.”
When the Graues looked at Porter’s Pub at the time, then-owner Dave Thomas informed them it wasn’t for sale.
“Three weeks later I got the call it would be for sale,” Graue said. “I knew a friend of his and had stayed in touch. Dave felt he wouldn’t be able to do it any longer.”
Graue said he started the purchasing process in March and finalized it three weeks ago. He was eager to move to the Northwest, selling off a bar in South Carolina at the same time.
“I was kind of surprised to get the call,” he said of Porter’s. “But it fit our time frame perfect. I’m a West Coast guy. I’m a big sports guy. I watched the Blazers the other night. On the East Coast it would have been over at 1:30 a.m. The West Coast is where it’s to be in sports.”
Porter’s Pub will be one of two former Keizer eateries the subject of public hearings for change of ownership and liquor license applications at the May 19 Keizer City Council meeting. The other is Caruso’s Italian Cafe on Inland Shores Way, set to re-open soon as Delaney Madison Grill. Caruso’s closed last April, but a “sale pending” sign has been out front in recent months.
Graue noted he’s operated bars for about a dozen years – including one in Belize for a year – and has a clear preference in what type of bar.
“We’re going to make it more of a sports bar,” Graue said of Porter’s. “I was leaning towards that. We’re putting in more TVs across the front, 17 around front and five more around the bar. It’ll be more of a sports bar. I try to convert everything to that. I’m a big sports guy. I’ve always been a sports enthusiast. A sports bar is the easiest way to bring people in.”
Shortly before Porter’s Pub closed in January, Thomas had put together a donut shop next door. Like the pub, that building has been closed. Graue won’t be doing anything with that building.
“My understanding is all the equipment is gone,” he said. “I don’t know anything about doughnuts, other than eating them.”
Graue said Thomas had lost his lottery machines, but the new owner is working to bring them back.
“We will eventually have a lottery,” Graue said. “I’m hoping in the next three or four months everything will be approved.”
The Graues moved in their RV and have already come to like the area.
“We liked it right off the bat,” Graue said. “The people are very friendly. The size of Salem-Keizer together offers a lot of opportunities. It has a good feel. It’s not too big and it’s not too small.”
Graue noted he and his wife will be working together and he’s hoping to keep some of the former Porter’s employees.
In addition, he looks forward to giving back to the community as he’s done with his previous bars.
“We’d like to embrace the community, and we hope they embrace us,” he said.