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Independence Watering Hole Making Its Presence Known

INDEPENDENCE -- For two years, the old one-pump gas station turned bar in downtown Independence sat in a state of limbo.Operating mostly as a seasonal and special events venue for those two years, the Mecanico Pub fully opened for business June 15.Matthew Lind, principal broker of Facet Real Estate Investments of Salem, purchased the building at 87 N. Main St. from the city of Independence five years ago.Original plans detailed razing the building and constructing a new pavilion, but the housing market collapse and ensuing recession stymied that vision."It's basically a culmination of five-plus years," Lind said. "It was really the property that just spoke that this is what it wanted to become."Most Independence residents have seen the progression from gas station to mechanic shop to boarded up eyesore and, now, to a modern bar.In fact, some might have read an article in the Itemizer-Observer in 2011 stating that the bar was prepping for a grand opening -- a grand opening that never really came.As a kid, Lind was very familiar with the building and its history. Growing up in south Salem, he frequently ventured to Independence and passed by the decrepit shop."I vaguely remember a period of time it was in use. It had been boarded up and vacant for about 10 years," Lind said.After the underground gas tanks were removed in the early 1990s, work was never completed to guarantee all possible contamination had dissipated. Lind performed much of the work himself to ensure the lot was safe to be occupied again and met state requirements.The new venture is now another watering hole for locals and travelers alike to enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown Independence while having a cold, regionally-brewed beer."We have three handles (taps) right now. Certainly for events I can have six handles," Lind said. "It's all local product. We want to keep it fresh."Patrons can also enjoy premium pub food on the hand-poured concrete slab bar or the handmade, rough wood tables."We want to keep it pretty streamlined and have a few specialty items," Lind said. "High-end dogs, like sausages and bratwursts. Pretty simple."Lind hopes the Saturday brunch of waffles and mimosas will have the bar full every weekend.A gravel space on the side of the building is open for food carts to come in during lunch and on weekends.Mecanico Pub is a prime spot for visitors and residents to view concerts and festivals at the Riverview Park Amphitheater. The pub also features free Wi-Fi and multiple TVs."This can now be an office for a lot of people. Come here, hunker down, be on the Wi-Fi and do work," Lind said. "You could have some big monstrosity here, but to have something that has a story is a little bit more interesting." Bar with a View What: Mecanico Pub. Where: 87 N. Main St., Independence. When: Thursday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to midnight. Of note: Mecanico offers regional beer and wine, as well as pub food. For more information: 503-539-3949; www.facebook.com/mecanicopub.

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