Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 13/6/2018 (762 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Grey Owl Coffee and Pub is named for Manitoba’s official bird, but the new downtown café/lounge has international inspirations.
While mulling over whether to get his doctorate in philosophy, owner Bryan Goertz moved to Britain, where he had friends.
While in the U.K., he decided to become a "computer nerd." Studying web design, he found himself spending a lot of time on his computer in cafés.
"I came to realize I didn’t want to be working on my laptop in coffee shops," the Winnipegger, 37, recalls. "I wanted to be working in the coffee shop."
Goertz was already passionate about java. He cut his teeth at Winnipeg’s Parlour Coffee and worked at Thom Bargen.
He saw his own venture being a bit different, however.
"We’re doing the third-wave coffee thing in Winnipeg quite well, but I didn’t want to do the austere, white thing," he says of the trendy, minimalist café esthetic. "I like it, but I’m not going to do it."
Instead, he turned to another U.K. inspiration: the pubs of Scotland.
"You can have a coffee house where conversations flow, but with a social lubricant, it’s so much better," he says.
He envisioned a marriage of coffee house and pub, with a cosy vibe that encouraged socializing but also allowed for customers who want to settle to work on their computers.
"It doesn’t have to be like Central Perk on Friends, with the comfy armchairs, but it should be comfortable."
Grey Owl’s general manager, Jessica Preachuk, a self-described "hospitality lifer," also lived in Scotland, so she shares his appreciation for the camaraderie of a good pub.
She also shares his love of coffee. Grey Owl will be a true multi-roaster shop, featuring revolving products from all over North America and beyond.
"We’ll always have at least one Canadian roaster represented," she says. "And we’ll have people behind the counter who can help you find what you like. If you like a certain flavour profile, we can recommend something you’ll enjoy."
Goertz also had a specific vision for the food. As someone with several dietary restrictions himself, he wanted a menu that didn’t just grudgingly accommodate them, but catered to them.
As such, it will feature lots of items that are vegan or vegetarian and gluten-free, but not in a way that feels manipulated.
"We will have soups, quinoa bowls... café food," Preachuk says of the planned menu, which will focus on light bites that can be packed up for takeout during the day and transition to shareables and small plates at night. (The evening menu has more meat options.)
Beverages will include beer, cider and a short list of classic cocktails. There will be a small wine list featuring some natural wines and, in what’s a first for Winnipeg, bone broth on tap, from local company Bones & Marrow.
Bone broth — essentially meat stock like your baba used to make — is huge in places like Brooklyn, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., where there are entire restaurants dedicated to serving up the flavourful stock with fancy add-ins such as ginger or kelp.
Because of Grey Owl’s downtown location — it’s on the main floor of the Scott Block, the century-old office building at 272 Main St. that has been converted to micro-suite lofts — Goertz and Preachuk predict and hope for a transition in the kinds of customers throughout the day, and plan to be open long hours.
Grey Owl Coffee & Pub is scheduled to open Friday, June 15. For hours and more information, email info@greyowlcoffee or call 204-951-1535.
Senior copy editor
Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.
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