Also available in Monday Magazine, originally posted on June 25th, 2020.
When everything shut down three months ago, one thing was certain: The impact on the hospitality industry was going to be and has been unimaginable. Now that establishments are reopening with lower capacity, restaurants, pubs, and taprooms are finding ways to adapt and welcome locals back in a safe and responsible manner.
The Drake Eatery is a perfect example. The Pandora Avenue beer parlour had shut down shortly before the order came down, and when they reopened, they were forced to reduce their indoor capacity to only a third of normal. Thankfully, Market Square has always been a perfect gathering place for downtown, and with the available space in the courtyard, they’ve managed to create a Beer Garden to accommodate more guests.
Mike Spence, co-owner of the Drake, had plans in mind, but they weren’t alone. “The Landlord was on board, and they actually brought the idea to us before we had a chance to,” said Spence, adding that they also received the support from other retailers in the square, and there was almost no red tape from the city. “Took just a couple of days to get it signed off, and now that’s not even required, if somebody’s applying for a patio they just green light it. Normally that would be a process where it would have to go to council.” Now open, their Beer Garden is offering the full food menu from upstairs, along with a special selection of 11 beers and ciders unique to the downstairs space.
Just across the courtyard, Whistle Buoy Brewing has taken their already great patio and expanded it significantly. “Market Square has become a downtown hub,” Isaiah Archer, Retail Manager at Whistle Buoy points out, “ and we’re looking to add live entertainment to the experience.”
Other venues seeing some expansion and adaptation include Smiths Pub, which has taken over the courtyard of the Quality Inn upstairs as a new patio, and Canoe Brewpub has reopened their iconic patio with some changes in the interest of safety, just in time for the great weather.
The craft beer industry is so reliant on local businesses to grow and thrive, so with patios, outdoor spaces, even roadways becoming not just the new normal but a necessity for those venues to survive in this climate, fingers are crossed that we have a classic Victoria summer full of open-air and amazing local beers.
Whatever you do this summer, make sure you’re supporting local businesses, enjoying local product, and staying safe, so we can all get back to normal as soon as possible.