By Rachael Rees

The Bulletin

After being vacant for more than two years, the former Astro Lounge location in downtown Bend is being remodeled into The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin.

Husband and wife Doug and Phoebe Pedersen plan to build a new bar and lounge in the space, located at 147 N.W. Minnesota Ave. It will replicate their Colorado business, also named The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, and serve specialty liquors ranging from tobacco-infused rum to butternut squash-infused vodka.

“Our whole brand is house-infused culinary cocktails,” said Phoebe Pedersen. “They’re all one of a kind.”

The couple had been searching for a space in Bend for the past year and discovered the Northwest Minnesota Avenue location about six months ago.

“We decided that it was time to open a second location and wanted to be closer to home (Portland),” Doug Pedersen wrote in an email.

When the Pedersens leased the Bend space, they knew they had their work cut out for them.

“It was totally gutted and empty when we got here,” Doug Pedersen said.

Gavin McMichael and James Orsillo, two former Bend restaurateurs, joined together in 2011 to create a burlesque-themed bar called The Ruby Room in the building. However, the bar project never got past the demolition phase.

For 10 years before that, the space housed The Astro Lounge, which relocated a few blocks away to Northwest Bond Street in June 2011.

Josh Maquet, owner of both The Astro Lounge and Blue Pine Kitchen and Bar on Southwest Century Drive, said the space gave him a lot of good years and made him a lot of money, but also had its share of issues.

Besides a small, 49-person capacity due to only one approved exit, he said the sewage pump in the basement would overflow and fill up the basement with sewage about once a month, the roof leaked on and off for about seven years and there were electrical shorts that led to frequent power outages.

“We’d be right in the middle of service on a Friday night and all the power would go out,” he said. “One night it rained so hard that the roof leaked and water drained straight down the middle of the bar structure. Thus, we closed the bar.”

But this isn’t the Pedersens’ first renovation project. Since 2008, they have been operating their Colorado bar out of a renovated historic mining shed and are confident they can transform the Bend space into a successful bar.

“It’s definitely top rent for what it is, but it’s also a top-rent location,” Phoebe Pedersen said, referring to the Bend location. “The owner has been very accommodating on getting the space up and running.”

The couple applied for a $10,000 permit to remodel the front window, door and facade in December, according to the city of Bend’s website, and have been painting, doing wood work and other aesthetic repairs to the floors, brick and drywall in preparation for their expected Feb. 14 opening, Doug Pedersen wrote Friday. They also plan to apply for additional permits for electric and plumbing infrastructure in a couple of weeks, he wrote.

From faux furs and animal skin prints to restored furniture, a 12-by-9-foot mural and an antique caboose, Doug Pedersen said the goal is to create a refurbished mid-century feel with a log cabin twist that mimics the vibe of their Colorado bar. The cost of the project is yet to be determined, he said.

“It’s a funky space and it just takes a lot of imagination,” Phoebe Pedersen said.

Phoebe Pedersen said she will be the head bartender and her husband will be one of the DJs playing electronic dance music and other genres, such as underground hip-hop. They plan to hire eight employees: four full-time and four part-time.

“We want to become the place you go every night, not just special occasions,” Doug Pedersen said.

—Reporter: 541-617-7818,