PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — From tiki bars to spooky cocktail lounges, the Rose City has its fair share of themed places to drink. But a bar that recently opened on North Killingsworth Street is themed after a more universal subject: Death.
Alexander has prior experience in the food and drink industry, with his most recent title being co-owner of Seattle bar Neon Boots. When he and his business partner learned that the building would be torn down in 2020, he decided to start a new venture in Portland.
He told KOIN 6 that his mother used to work in a funeral home, and they also lived near a funeral home when he was younger. This, combined with his art-school background and passion for creating scenes, inspired him to open a funeral-home-themed bar.
“The pandemic, though, changed my perspective on it and I started thinking that I didn’t want it to be as spooky,” Alexander said. “I wanted it to be more like making a difficult subject less difficult. I wanted to bring people some sort of peace and to make an interesting space that’s based around death, but not in a way that’s supposed to be scary.”
The bar’s drink menu was developed by acclaimed bartender Megan Radke — or Alexander, now that she’s married to the owner.
Sad Valley offers classic cocktails and ‘sad cocktails,’ with names like Beloved Daughter and Cryin’ Swaggart. All of the drink options are discounted during the bar’s daily ‘unhappy hour.’
The simple, but effective food options come courtesy of Patrick Carney, the former chef at now-closed Norwegian food cart Skidbladnir. The menu includes bar classics like chicken strips and French fries, but Alexander said the plant-based seitan pepper sandwich has been a favorite thus far.
The death-themed bar is currently preparing for its inaugural Halloween party, an event that was a big hit during its past life in Seattle. Party attendees can expect a costume contest with cash prizes as well as some not-so-fun prizes, according to Alexander.
“The space is kind of making a joke, but the joke isn’t on the customer or death. It’s more on all of us because we all are being laughed at by our fate,” he said.
Sad Valley is located on 832 N Killingsworth St.