When Alu Wine Bar closed in February, it was a hushed end to a short and quiet life for the Northeast Portland spot. I had driven past it several times myself, wondering what it was, before I finally ventured in. It was an interesting space, and the wine list was not bad, but somehow it just never seemed to take off. Maybe it was the German-influenced menu, maybe it was the first floor lounge, crowded with hulking tables and full of so much underutilized potential, but whatever it was, it came and went fast.
Enter Jeff Vejr and Susan Killoran, a Portland native and a Georgia transplant, respectively, looking to meld their unique experiences into a joint venture in the Portland food and wine scene.
They had been introduced by a friend. At the time, Susan was President of a spirits/wine importer based in South Carolina and soon Jeff was consulting for her company. A friendship grew, and eventually they began talking about opening a wine bar together. Jeff took Susan to Alu as an example of the kind of aesthetic feel he had in mind for their own place. He showed her the den-like first floor, begging for romantic touches like velvet sofas, overstuffed chairs and myriad candles, the upperfloor he envisioned looking like an after-hours speakeasy with vivid accents, an expert bartender, and an inspired chef to make it complete. The outdoor patio was also nearly perfect; all it needed was a little sprucing, Jeff thought. Susan loved both the building and the plan as much as he did, and they hoped to find a place that would be as conducive to making their ideas a reality as this one.
Then, a month or so later, Jeff received word that Alu had closed and was up for sale. Shocked and excited he sent a text to Susan, on vacation in Mexico, and the wheels to buy Alu were set into motion.
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