Three months ago, Glenn Cormier wouldn't have believed it possible that he would open a business on Bowen Island. "To be honest, to me Bowen Island was always a Neverland-kind of a place. I never believed I could buy a place here," said the new co-owner of the Bowen Island Pub. He has been busy getting the place ready for opening day on Friday, August 10, with the help of his wife Meredith, daughter Farrah, business partner Nick Shaw, and Shaw's wife Connie. "Everything happened very quickly. It was a big adjustment for us to think about how this is going to affect our future and what we are going to, do" Cormier said.
Cormier will be the on-site manager and take care of most of the day to day tasks, he explained. "My wife will help with the accounting and bookkeeping. Nick [Shaw] has a scaffolding company so he's going to help with the upkeep of the building and construction items. We recognize that the building needs a bit of TLC. It's an older building and it's on a key corner," he said, adding that they have a long-term plan in place but for now, they just want to get it up and running.
This decision to open this weekend comes from the understanding that every community needs a pub, according to Cormier. "A pub that's been around for that long has created a lot of memories. I think it's a good pub it has a good room," he said. "It just needs a little life breathed into it."
Cormier envisions the pub to be a sustainable business year-round and for seven days a week. "We don't want to close the door on specific days or times of the year," he says. "We recognize that Bowen Island is a seasonal place but if you're the community pub, you have a responsibility to maintain the business year-round."
Cormier has considerable experience in the hospitality industry. "I've been in the food and beverage business for about 25 years, basically my whole working life," he said. "I started at a young age and worked in kitchens in many different restaurants, bars and hotels. Most recently, I've come from the Granville Island Hotel where I was the food and beverage director." In addition, he has worked for a number of major hotels and chain restaurants and says he's been looking for a place he can invest in for the long term.
Cormier gives a lot of credit to Rick Steadman, a friend of Shaw's who brought this business opportunity to their attention. "He got us to come here to take a look and we jumped on it," Cormier says. "And he's over at the pub every day helping us get ready."
For now, Cormier will be living in the pub building and his wife and daughter will join him on the weekends. "I will need to travel back and forth quite a bit to pick up supplies and things like that. It's going to be challenging to get the business operational and figure out who services Bowen Island," Cormier says, adding that the family has a place in Kitsilano. "We also like the fact that we'll be spending more time as a family on Bowen," Cormier said. "We definitely want to be part of the community. And just during the few days we were fixing up the place, my daughter already made some new friends." Ten-year-old Farrah looks forward to her time on Bowen, says Cormier: "I really like the fact that she can do her thing and take the dog for a walk here. That's a luxury you don't necessarily have in the city."
The next steps are to get the pub open and sort out the menu, according to Cormier. "I want to play a big part in developing the menu and training the staff. That's going to be a priority for the next year as well as investing a bit in the cosmetics of the building," he says, adding that there are no immediate plans for major changes other than revitalizing the business.
Cormier and his helpers have been busy cleaning the place. The kitchen is not quite ready but, eager to get started, Cormier has come up with a temporary solution: he's going to have a barbeque running on the patio. "We want to get the place going for the ball tournament," he said. "We've had a lot of requests for the pub to be open this coming weekend."
The pub is going to open from noon on Friday to 1 a.m. For Saturday and Sunday, the hours will be similar and as added attraction, Wasabi Fox will provide entertainment on Saturday night. Cormier cannot say enough about the warm welcome he's received from Bowen Island residents. "The response has been overwhelmingly positive," he said. "A lot of people are excited that we are coming to contribute to the community."
And the new owners are going to keep the name. "Bowen Island Pub," Cormier said. "It's a great name and it says it all, right there."