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Welcome to Valhalla

Welcome to Valhalla

Dave Sebille

Five friends in Lakewood had enough of this “not being able to get a decent cocktail in a bar that’s playing metal” shit.

In response, these service industry veterans banded together and decided the best thing to do was buy a building and use it to express their love for all things mythology, outdoors, community, philosophy, Vikings, and, of course, booze by starting their own bar.

The bar, located at 12301 Madison Ave. in Lakewood, is called L.B.M. and will be opening late this summer. While the desired view of raging cliffsides and dragon fire isn’t quite achievable in Birdtown, the interior will make you feel as if you’ve wandered off the hard Scandinavian road into an ale hall that doesn’t check your ax at the door.

“A lot of people hear ‘viking bar’ and expect plastic horn helmets, not the case,” says bartender Vinny Salls. Fellow bartender John Gibian adds, “This is less about gimmicks and more about the attitude of building something yourself out of raw natural material.”

The L.B.M. crew members are not rich kids getting bankrolled to build a cookie-cutter cocktail bar that they saw on Pinterest. These are insanely hardworking men and women putting everything they have on the line to achieve a shared dream, all while having a few hundred beers and sharing hockey fight stories.

“We built this,” Gibian says while a Viking tear runs down his face. “We did everything. It is our literal sweat and literal blood.”

This monumental accomplishment  was not completely achieved alone. Stefan Was from Porco Lounge and Tiki Room helped out the L.B.M. crew by letting them take over his bar while the Porco crew were out of town a few months ago. The results were phenomenal. Many other local business owners have helped out along the way with contributions big and small, from construction equipment to simply stopping in with a case of cold beer for the worker bees. Owner Eric Ho couldn’t say enough about how helpful the city inspectors and and contractors have been to them. “Our building inspector is the nicest guy in the world. He actually cares and worries about us,” Ho says with a sincere smile.

L.B.M.’s overwhelming goal is to be an accessible cocktail bar with a seasonally rotating beer menu and small plates produced by Executive Chef Cory Meiss. Meiss describes his style as “contemporary American with Central American influences,” but when challenged to make a Scandinavian ceviche, he put on his horned thinking helmet and busted out an amazing dish that included indigenous berries and nuts while still relying on tropical citrus.

“I feel like I’ll forever be learning more about Scandinavian food, and I couldn’t be more excited,” Meiss says, coming just short of letting of a Viking battle cry.

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Also, try not to be scared by the word cocktail; this is not a pinky-out, nose-up bar. Bartender Merandia Adkins assures us, “We are all very knowledgeable and interested but none of us have an ego about it at all.”

Everyone at L.B.M. is very close and there is zero ego flying around. Instead, there is just five buddies working their fingers to the bone to achieve the dream that so many industry workers dream of.

“All religions and mythology boils down to one simple rule: don’t be a dick,” Salls yells to the sky as he jumps off some nearby scaffolding.

“That’s the first rule of L.B.M.: don’t be a dick,” Ho adds as he shrugs and throws me a beer.

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