Stepping Stone’s new owners, Darren and Elizabeth Miller, carry the torch for The Viking Tavern.
Spirit of The Viking lives on at The Stepping Stone
By Shane Harms
When The Viking Tavern on 24th Ave NW closed down earlier this year, many people mourned not just the death of old-styled watering holes, but the death of Ballard as a whole.
But all is not lost. The memory of The Viking can be found at The Stepping Stone, located at 5903 24th Ave NW.
As reported in September, the Stepping Stone has new owners, Darren and Elizabeth Miller. The Millers worked and frequented the Viking Tavern -- Darren was a bartender and bar manager for more than a decade. Now they have carried the spirit of their once loved hang out to the Stepping Stone.
“We wanted to place to have the same feeling as the Viking … just a nice comfortable neighborhood place where you can hang out, drink beer, eat good food, and watch the game,” Darren said.
Indeed, the Millers have carried not only the ambiance of the Viking, but also some objects that once furnished their old hang out. A large painting of a Viking ship hangs in the back, fixtures pepper the bar, and even the door from The Viking’s walk-in cooler -- known for where they stored the eggs they sold by the dozen -- is being used on the Stepping Stone’s cooler.
“We spent so much time there it was hard not to take some of the stuff. I grabbed the door right off the cooler, and now we use it,” Darren said.
Doors and paintings were not the only thing that migrated to the Stepping Stone. Staff followed as well.
“Aubrey Taylor, Bob Hoaglen, Bryan Vanwhener all came from the Viking. In fact, all our bartenders did. … When it closed, everyone needed a job, so it worked out. Plus we know we can trust them, which is important, especially when first starting out,” Elizabeth said.
As new business owners, the couple said opening has had its challenges.
Before they bought the Stepping Stone, Elizabeth worked for Nielson Brothers Carpets in Ballard (recently closed), while Darren brought in over a decade of bar management experience.
“It’s a little surreal owning your own bar. When we first bought the place we were really excited but totally nauseated from all the details of remodeling … once we are up and running though we feel it will be very liberating for us,” Elizabeth said.
The Millers say the neighborhood has been very supportive of their efforts.
“We already knew a lot of the neighbors but there are many new faces that stop by and then come back. … Neighboring businesses have been very welcoming too,” said Elizabeth.
Right now the Stepping Stone serves only wine and beer, but they plan to cultivate the menu and apply for a liquor license in the near future. As for events, they host a potluck for every Seahawks game. They are open noon to 2 a.m. every day.
Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ballardnewstrib
And Twitter at http://twitter.com/ballardnewstrib