Arts & Entertainment

The Viking is getting a new vibe

The venerable Viking, a near North Side bar just off Boone Avenue on Stevens Street, is now under new ownership and they are remodeling the inside. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Greg Healy, left, and Darin Talotti are two of the three new owners of The Viking, the venerable bar on North Stevens Street behind the KXLY studios, shown Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2017. The third owner is Krista Christofferson. All three are veterans of the bar business. They are updating the interior of the place to brighten it up and modernize the ambiance. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The old Viking tavern’s exterior is pretty straightforward. The inside is undergoing an transformation, with three young owners who plan to open at the end of March or early April with a modernized interior. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The Viking is getting a new vibe.

When the longtime Spokane bar reopens, it will still feature some of the familiar elements its regulars loved – part of its collection of old beer signs, for example. But, the overall look will be a little more contemporary, said new owner Darin Talotti.

“It will have the same feel,” he said. “But it will be cleaner and more modernized.”

He’s hoping to reopen in mid – or by the end of – March.

Meantime, the bathrooms are getting a complete overhaul. So are the walls and floors. The carpet is being ripped out, and the concrete flooring is being refinished. The wood-paneled walls are being sanded and re-stained. So are some of the old tables and chairs.

The look will be decidedly “less divey,” Talotti said.

Light fixtures will remain the same, but will be refitted with Edison-style bulbs. The indoor fire feature will be updated. The old bar has been ripped out and will be replaced. The new owners are building a new one in the same spot. They’re also installing a new tap system. There will be 24 handles.

On the menu will be “upscale pub food” with “all of the same burgers and sandwiches,” Talotti said. “We’re probably going to do an upscale salad bar.”

Most hours will be all ages “so families can come in to eat,” Talotti said. “We want this to be a place where people come for food. So, we’re going to concentrate a little more on that.”

He plans to keep the kitchen open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. And, in addition to emphasizing the restaurant side of the business, he plans to offer a full bar and craft cocktail program.

Talotti, 40, owns the bar with Greg Healy, a bartender at the Screaming Yak, and Krista Christofferson, who worked at the Viking for about seven years before it closed in September.

Talotti and his partners bought the business in December and began renovations with help from former Viking manager Steve Barclay.

“We’ve done a lot of the work ourselves,” Talotti, who’s helping build new bench seating to line the wood-paneled walls.

He also owns Whisk, a small whiskey bar which opened in downtown Spokane in 2015. And he had owned Pacific Avenue Pizza in Browne’s Addition for seven years before recently selling it.

But his family has been in the restaurant and bar business in Spokane for decades. And the Viking, at 1221 N. Stevens St. near the Spokane Arena, is a particularly special spot.

Talotti’s dad, George Talotti, owned Ahab’s Whale, a nautical-themed bar, in the same place in the 1970s. In fact, “My dad sold the building to the current owner’s dad,” he said. “I don’t know when it became the Viking – sometime in the ’80s.”

He said his father only owned Ahab’s Whale for a short time before selling it and the building. He also recently sold his longtime business, Red Lion BBQ and Pub in downtown Spokane, to Darin’s older brother Tony, but continues to help run the place.

At the Viking, Darin Talotti said he will take on a general manager role. Meantime, he and his partners are on the process of hiring bartenders, servers and cooks.

They plan to add an outdoor patio and build a stage in the parking lot for outdoor shows. The pool table and shuffleboard will remain. So will the wooden mermaid figurines that once watched over the bar area of the old Viking.

“The mermaids will be back up,” Talotti said. “Everybody liked the mermaids.”