‘We want to make it an iconic location in Canada’: Substantial renovations coming to former Canoe Brewpub

'We want to make it an iconic location in Canada': Substantial renovations coming to former Canoe Brewpub
An artist rendering of CRAFT Beer Market, which is set to open in the building where Canoe Brewpub is currently located.

Big changes are coming to a former Victoria brewpub this year after it changed ownership last fall.

Canoe Brewpub, located inside the historic City Lights building along Victoria’s Inner Harbour, closed its doors on Oct. 18 after 19 years in operation.

It changed ownership last fall and is set to reopen in the coming months as CRAFT Beer Market following major renovations to the building.

“We are excited to reinvigorate the space to be a landmark destination within the community,” PJ L’Heureux, founder and president of CRAFT Beer Market, said last fall adding. “There is a lot of history in the building, and we’re thankful for the support that the community has given Canoe over the years.”

On a recent episode of the MicCHEK Podcast, L’Heureux said that the building is still under construction at this time and they are waiting for their building permit to be released in order to finish off the project.

Victoria will become CRAFT’s ninth location and L’Heureux says that the company pounced at the opportunity to move into the “iconic” building that Canoe Brewpub was leaving behind, but says it understands the pressure that comes with converting the popular space.

“I’m a fan of Canoe, we’ve been there many times myself with my family and we know what it’s all about and I think they were at a crossroads where they either needed to do a reno or pass it along,” said L’Heureux.

While the CRAFT founder says the building will still have the feeling that Canoe Brewpub had, the renovations are “substantial” with one of the biggest changes being the movement of the kitchen.

The entrance is expected to remain the same, with a tasting room on the right when guests walk in and, although there still will be an upstairs, L’Heureux says the stairs, corridor and main seating section will be totally revamped.

Customers can expect to see a lot more bar space with the bar extending from the inside of the restaurant and out onto the patio.

Although CRAFT hasn’t done live music at other locations, L’Heureux says the Victoria space is being designed to allow for performances in order to stay true to the history of Canoe Brewpub.

As for the outside, guests familiar with the layout of the former Canoe Brewpub can expect a complete facelift to the outdoor area.

“We’re going to add a lot more to the patio. We’re doing the inside-outside bar, we’re adding some games and completely different seating,” L’Heureux. Those games will include bocce courts and bean bag toss stations, according to the CRAFT president.

L’Heureux adds that he is excited for CRAFT to be a part of the Victoria community and the brand is striving for big success in the new market.

“We want to make it an iconic location in Canada,” says L’Heureux. “We want it to be the best restaurant in Victoria, we want people from Victoria to love it, but we also want all the visitors to come in and say this is one of the greatest places we’ve ever been.”

The menu will be focused on localizing as well, particularly on the beer front, so Victoria residents can expect familiar brands to be on tap.

Extending beyond the property, the restaurant is working on completing a footpath that connects the location to the Johnson Street Bridge as well.

And Canoe faithful can let out a sigh of relief as the restaurant’s iconic red canoe will be staying on location.

CRAFT says it is hoping to open the new location in summer 2022.

Listen to the full conversation between CHEK’s Joe Perkins and CRAFT’s PJ L’Heureux on the MicCHEK Podcast here.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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