Eastside Mario’s is long, long gone, and as of last week a tavern-style restaurant and pub combination opened in its place.
In what I would think is one of the most strategically prime locations in all of Walnut Grove – next to the Cineplex theatres just north of 88th Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on 200th Street – Browns Restaurant Group has opened up the all new London Bull.
And, yes, that’s one in the same company that has Browns Socialhouse just around the corner in the Village at Thunderbird Centre.
After almost four months of renovations, it swung open the doors last Thursday on what is boasted as a crowded drinking destination for the younger, more rambunctious clients who can appreciate the slogan “Let us pour you some dinner.”
When I initially wrote this column for our print edition, I said I was looking forward to chatting with company vice-president Bruce Fox, to bring you more about this new establishment in the online version of this column.
Well, that discussion was very enlightening.
He explained how the concept took root about two years ago, and how the Browns team began hunting for a potential site about a year back.
Browns Social House has been the flagship restaurant chain for the 11-year-old Vancouver-based restaurant company, with 38 Brown’s Social House restaurants open in Western Canada (the latest opened Tuesday in Lethbridge), plus one in Ontario.
But it has long been the intent of Browns management team to develop multiple brands – other franchise chains – too.
Langley’s London Bull is the first out of the gate, Fox said, noting two others are in the works, but he wouldn’t reveal where.
While the new Langley restaurant is currently company-owned and operated, he expects it won’t be long before Browns starts franchising the London Bull model.
It’s what he calls – and so far the reaction from the public in the first week of operation seems to prove this out – a popular New York-style tavern with an old-school feel blending bricks and old-fashioned lighting with things such as historic pictures on the walls, barrel tables, paper table clothes, and other decorative fixtures and features that give it a heritage feel – “almost saloon like, but not like the old west-style saloon,” he clarified.
“It’s fun, casual, and a little out of the ordinary,” he added. “Not stuffy or sophisticated… and we’re definitely not intended to be a family restaurant.”
He insists it’s not a night club “by any means” but a place where young adults can get away and let loose.
In fact, while he doesn’t expect to see a lot of real 19- and 20-year-olds in London Bull, creators expect this new restaurant and pub to appeal primarily – but not exclusively – to the early 20s through 40s set.
It’s equipped with about 125 seats inside and roughly 65 out on a nice, enclosed patio.
Working with the shell of an existing restaurant presented its challenges, Fox said. While much of the space was gutted to start again, the actual square footage was larger than they initially planned.
The good news, it presented a large room that could be turned into a meeting room – which really wasn’t in keeping with their open space concept. They could put a giant beer cooler there. Or, they could turn it into a large bakery space – with tons of windows – that would allow guests to see homemade pies and milkshakes being made fresh onsite.
Browns has opened with a staff of about 50, and while no official grand opening is planned, Fix said general manager Alastair Knott and development chef Joshua King are pretty excited about the establishment’s future.
In the meantime, speaking of food establishments, hats off to the team at the Willowbrook White Spot. They sold the most ships of all 65 restaurants in last week’s Pirate Pak Day – a fundraiser aimed at sending sick kids to camp. They sold 7,850 of the province’s 46,179 paks. Kudos!
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Refreshments to the ’Grove
Summer is ideal for construction, and work is underway in Walnut Grove as some of the strip malls freshen up their premises.
There’s some parking lot upgrades afoot on the mall housing Buy-Low Foods, and nearby in the Save-On-Foods and TD Bank mall the hammers are going as roofers work to refresh that complex.
And speaking of Walnut Grove, the Walnut Grove Business Association just held its inaugural golf tournament on Tuesday. Just waiting for the results, because that was designed to be a fundraiser for the different neighbourhood projects WGBA coordinates or offers assistance to during the year.
And, in the meantime, mark your calendar if you want to attend the quarterly WGBA meeting. It’s slated for Thursday, Sept. 10, at 8 a.m.
Former Langley Advance reporter turned politician, turned taxpayer federation advocate Jordan Bateman is the guest speaker at next months gathering, promising a humourous look at how governments waste tax dollars – it’s what he calls the best of the worst of government waste.
That meeting is being held at the Sandman Signature Hotel, 8828 201st St., but people are asked to RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s free to attend for association members, but it costs $10 for non-members.