Jordan "Oberon" Mackay's traveling tavern is coming to rest on the Ashland Plaza to serve up old-world recipes and libations and plenty of Shakespeare-themed merriment.
Having spent the last three years at festivals around the Western United States as proprietor of Oberon's Traveling Tavern, Mackay says becoming a permanent Ashland fixture with Oberon's Three-Penny Tavern will be a childhood dream come true.
"We're really looking forward to playing into the Shakespeare element of the town," he says, pacing around the hollowed-out, broken-walled store that once housed Inti Imports at 45 N. Main St. "It's going to take a lot of work, but it will be fantastical. Like a medieval tavern taken over by an ancient forest."
There will be a fake tree in one corner, manzanita branches seemingly growing out of the floor, and an armor-clad knight to greet customers at the door.
Dandelion wine, strong, dark ales, and meads will flow from the bottles and taps, and the servers and staff won't break character, Mackay says.
The public house, as Mackay describes it, will be loosely themed around Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," but the tavern's atmosphere won't be limited to that work.
"It will be like a play everyone is an active participant in," he says. "We really want the whole thing to make people smile. We want it to be an experience."
There also will be a back room for those who would rather settle down away from the rowdiness, Mackay says.
The tavern should be able to accommodate about 100 guests, and will use "wenches" as servers, he says.
But first, everything must go.
Since landing the location Nov. 6, Mackay, and, so far, mostly just friends have been gutting the place in preparation for a major renovation. That work has included removing by hand hundreds of buckets full of sediment packed into the store's basement since the 1997 New Year's Day flood.
In 2009, Mackay attempted to open a similarly themed tavern in Ashland, but ran into financial setbacks.
He's found investors to back the project this time, and is also raising money for the effort on www.indiegogo.com.
"This is what it was always meant to be. We're bringing it home," he says.
Although the tavern's name shares the term "three-penny" with a local vintage-clothing store, the businesses are not connected.
Mackay plans to have an initial opening in February for Ashlanders to get a taste of the tavern's unique atmosphere and offer suggestions.
"Ashland is such an artistically rich community, I know there will be ideas," Mackay says. "The plan is to continue reinvesting in it, so that it's just staggeringly cool."
Oberon's Three-Penny Tavern will be open for regular business April 6, he says.
"It's going to be an interesting, dynamic situation, because the only way that this is going to work is if the community gets behind it," Mackay says.
For information, see oberonstavern.com.
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.