INDEPENDENCE — The dust hasn’t quite settled, but the doors are open at The Valkyrie Wine Tavern.
Savannah Pearce and Lindsay Darling have a vision for the space at 301 S. Main St., Independence.
“I kind of always knew that I’d end up here pursuing wine in some way,” Pearce said. “I’d always been drawn to this exact space.”
Pearce’s grandparents lived in Independence, and though she is from Alaska, she frequented the city.
“My whole life I would pull up to this intersection and my heart would kind of race,” she said. “I don’t know why but something about right here I’ve always found really exciting.”
When she saw the space was available, she was getting ready to leave to Alaska for the summer.
“I wasn’t concretely looking to do it, but I thought, that’s the space,” Pearce said. “If there is one, that’s it. So I said well if it’s still available when I get back from Alaska in a few months, I’ll inquire. And it was.”
So she did. Then she contacted Darling, her friend of 15 years.
Darling has been in kitchens and cooking her whole life, Pearce said. She also went to culinary school in Portland, worked for a year at Robert Mondavi winery and ran a location of her family’s business for five years.
Pearce completed the wine studies program at Chemeketa Community College.
Valkyrie features local wines and beer and has a menu of dining options.
“Savannah approached me with the whole concept of, you know, having something that’s fun for us, and if we’re not having fun doing it then we’re doing the wrong thing,” Darling said. “We’re kind of working toward creating the environment that we always wanted to work in.”
In terms of culinary inspiration, they’re “going back to a very primal way of cooking with our charcoal oven — nice ingredients, simple preparation, not a lot of fancy and fuss. But you’ll also find some New Orleans items on there, so you’ll find some strong flavors.”
They want it to be a casual environment where everyone feels welcome, Darling said.
Valkyrie’s menu is a work-in-progress, as is the interior of tavern.
Pearce and Darling have been working hard to get both ready.
“Our cooking skills are exponentially better than our construction skills,” Pearce laughed.
The pair have painted the ceiling, installed fiberglass paneling in the kitchen, burned and stained plywood and installed countertops and sinks.
“We didn’t do anything that had permits or inspections required,” Darling said.
Pearce said it’s been a collaborative effort.
One common feature that stands out throughout the space are the taxidermy animals.
An Alaskan bear in the front window greets passersby and a buffalo stands guard over the fireplace toward the back of the building.
“We elevated the fireplace so you could see it from the street,” Pearce said. “I didn’t want to block all of the nice light that comes in through those windows. And I didn’t want to leave the back feeling like a separate thing, so I decided to make the top of it flat as it is.”
When the fireplace was done, she was trying to figure out what “to put up there.”
Pearce has a taxidermy collection and she knows other people who have pieces as well, she said.
When she expressed out loud that she didn’t know if she could find anything big enough to put over the fireplace, one of the carpenters working with them spoke up.
He had a friend who had a “giant” half-mount bison and needed to free up some space.
Darling also scored the bear.
Some of the comfy chairs are of a 1960s vintage, and there also are antique lights.
“I’d love for this place to look like it’s been here forever,” Pearce said.
The Valkyrie Wine Tavern is open from noon to 10 p.m., Thursday through Monday.