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LTs Pub prepares for comeback at new spot

Bar rises from ashes of fire to new Division location
by: John Klicker, LT’s, a bar that burned down in June 2007, has relocated to a building along Division Street. The new location is nearly complete, with a grand opening set for Saturday, April 12.

The broasted chicken will be back. So will the birthday banners and taco night. LT's Tavern has risen from the ashes.

The venerable Orient Drive tavern that burned last June 12 has been resurrected as LT's Pub at 508 N.E. Division St. in a building last used as a teen hangout and video game headquarters.

'It always was LT's Pub,' says owner Mary Lejeune, 'but everybody called it a tavern. So, it's a tavern.' Nevertheless, the new sign outside says 'Pub' and bears a familiar slogan, 'Cold Beer - Warm Welcome.'

LT's will have a grand opening Saturday, April 12, but Lejeune said she hopes to open for business today. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. Weekdays, it closes at midnight. Now that the coolers are in, the plumbing has been redone in the 1972 building, 10 sinks have been installed and the pool tables and two big-screen TVs are waiting, it's time to install the people.

The friends of the old tavern, which sat next to White's Meats since 1968, formed a family. Nancy Amonson was, and is, the den mother, remembering birthdays, organizing potlucks. Each of the bartenders had been there more than a decade. Some customers drank, some didn't, but LT's was a place, they said, 'where everybody knows your name.'

When patrons old and new walk into LT's, they'll have similar choices for beer and wine as they did at the old place. The six taps toward the back of the U-shaped bar will dispense Miller, Coors Light and Budweiser. Those perennials will be joined by newcomer Fat Tire Amber Ale.

The new place is a lot slicker. Lejeune had been hoping to eventually move the old LT's to a new building. The fire took everything. Though she and her husband, Ron, were insured and also had business interruption insurance, insurance payments covered a little more than half the cost of setting up again, she says.

'The city's been great,' she said of Gresham officials. 'They've bent over backwards to help us.'

All new businesses face changing code requirements, thus the need for six sinks in the kitchen, bathrooms big enough to dance in, as well as all new stuff like glasses and beer coolers.

And a new chicken broaster. Millie Owens, who will help Mary Lejeune manage the place, shows off the gas-fired broaster. 'We had the best chicken in town,' the two brag. And Millie figures it can be ready, with jo-jos, in about 12 minutes.

'The problem is that you just get one order done and somebody smells it and you have to do another,' Owens says. 'It's hard to keep up sometimes.'

Mary Lejeune says running the place can be done by one person, but she will likely have two employees there. She is a working owner, she says.

One of the reasons she and her husband decided to rebuild, she admits, 'is that we missed the people.'

Reporter Shannon O. Wells contributed to this story.