BC Craft Beer Spotlight: Darby’s Public House

From What’s Brewing magazine’s Winter 2020-21 issue

BC’s 200 craft breweries were built to be community gathering places, forgoing TV screens in favour of long, shared tables and mingling. For now, that is no longer the advantage it was.

In this issue of What’s Brewing magazine, a group of industry members discuss how BC craft breweries will survive hospitality’s harshest ever winter with slashed capacity, frozen patios and a raging virus, and what awaits them in 2021 if a wary public continues to stay home. Today, we hear from Brendan Bonfield of Vancouver’s Darby’s Public House.

Brendan Bonfield of Darby’s Public House

Q&A with Brendan Bonfield of Darby’s Public House

Q. The last time we checked in with you, there was no pandemic. Now, there is no end in sight. How are you and the pub holding up?

A: We are hanging in there!

Operating a pub and liquor store during a pandemic has its challenges, but we are finding creative ways to make it work. We are lucky to have such amazing staff and customers that continue to support us through these difficult times.

Q: How are things going in front of house; what is your capacity reduced to, and how is traffic these days?

A: The front of house is doing OK. We are making the best of a reduced capacity of 74 and liquor service stopping at 10:00 pm. Traffic was good in the summer and early fall. We were able to maintain a large number of seats on our patio and still maintain proper distancing, which helped a lot.

Things have slowed a bit with the rise in cases, but the community is still coming to support us as we have created trust in the safety of coming to Darby’s for food and drinks.

Q. Winter is a big concern for many hospitality businesses. How much outdoor capacity do you have, and do you have a plan for the colder weather?

A: We are going to be able to keep a large section of our patio open all winter with waterproof tents and new heaters. The new outdoor system provides a comfortable environment that we have already seen customers enjoying on cold rainy days.

Q. Do you think that COVID will permanently change people’s behaviour, and make society less trusting of close face-to-face interactions with strangers, even after vaccines emerge? Do you think craft beer fans are more likely or less likely to be mindful of keeping their distance than the general public?

A: I don’t think that COVID will create a permanent distrust of face to face interactions, life will go back to normal at some point. The craft beer fans that I know are very social people that want to get out and support the local businesses they love in person. I don’t see COVID changing that.

I also don’t want to generalize a group of people, but the majority of craft beer fans I know are more likely to be mindful of keeping a respectful distance in public.  To be fair, most people in my world are respectful of keeping a responsible distance and wearing a mask in public places.

Q: What’s next on the horizon for the pub? Any other topic, community activity or recent success you’d care to highlight?

A: We have a couple of projects in the works. We are building a new bar upstairs to better service our rooftop patio. We also started offering liquor for takeout and delivery in the pub at the same price as our store. This gives customers an easier option to grab some drinks to go when leaving the pub.

The project we are most excited about is our new pizza program. We just purchased a pizza oven that is scheduled to arrive in mid-December.  In January 2021 you will be able to enjoy great pizza and craft beer at Darby’s or for takeaway and delivery.  We are still going to offer many of the items our customers have come to love but will be adding some tasty pizzas to the menu.  Can’t go wrong with great craft beer and pizza.

Darby’s Public House – Kitsilano
2001 Macdonald Street, Vancouver, BC

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Darby’s Public House


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Beer Me British Columbia: since 2012, BC's #1 resource for craft beer reviews, BC beer industry insights and career opportunities.

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