by Evan Sernoffsky
The sound of a chop saw ripping through wood cuts through the air of the Whiteaker neighborhood in Eugene. Ten sawdust and paint covered builders work diligently to finish construction of the Izakaya Menji Company, a new restaurant and bar opening on 3rd and Van Buren.
Quinn Brown, the restaurant’s owner, doesn’t have a minute to spare. “We are shooting to be open Saturday. We just got our health permits,” he says while stepping over plywood and stained boards.
The bar is almost complete and while the restaurant is in a state of disarray, it is easy to see that when construction is complete the final product will be stunning.
“It’s a restaurant and bar with beer, wine and mostly old whiskey,” Brown says. “The menu will be mostly Japanese style sautéed and grilled food. We won’t have sushi. It will have more of an old tavern feel.”
“Pretty much everyone Quinn knows is helping out with the project,” says Hart Godbold, a friend of Brown’s who is informally overseeing construction of the restaurant. “A family friend who is a retired contractor built the benches in the back and his dad did all the welding.”
Brown recently acquired an old juke box that plays 45rpm records that will create the right atmosphere.
“Izakaya means tavern and Meiji was a time period in Japan. It was kind of like the renaissance,” Brown says. “We are trying to model our restaurant on these ideas.”
For now it is about getting the construction finished. “We will try to have a soft opening for the Whiteaker Block Party on August 7th with drinks and a little food,” Godbold says.