Whalens Pub & soon-to-be Grill

Emilie Bourque schools you in local business news.

Star of the Sea Wars
It’s still up in the air what is ever going to become of downtown’s Star of the Sea Hall.

Ken O’Brien, Manager of Planning and Information with the City, says the building is currently owned by Gary White, and although White has applied for several things, it’s all a bit of a tangle what he can go forward with.

Originally he applied for a liquor license, but that’s pretty complicated in its own right when it comes to the Star of the Sea Hall. Why? Well, O’Brien tells me it’s because The Star of the Sea Association—of which White happens to be a long-standing member—already has a liquor license for the building, but only for the private, not public, club that it is.

For decades, booze has been served there at dances, weddings, parties, and tournaments, but a non-profit association holding a liquor license is a very different thing than a private individual holding one.

O’Brien says the sticking point is that if the land was vacant, and someone applied to build a night club, the city would reject that since it’s located in a residential neighbourhood. So, no matter what White’s plans would be with a liquor license, the city cannot grant him one.

When that didn’t happen he applied for a demolition permit in order to make some townhouses on the site. But the city denied him because the building is a heritage site, which equals no demolition permit.

The only option he has left is some kind of conversion for other use, and O’Brien says they are going to try to work with him to help him come up with a plan.

Stay tuned for details…

Garden of vegan
Bitters, the grad lounge and restaurant located on MUN’s campus—but still open to the public—has revamped its food focus. Although their menu changed back in the fall, some bigger changes have come about in the last couple of weeks—ever since Julie Purchase arrived.

Purchase, a transplanted Nova Scotian, has had every kitchen job in the book—from ship’s cook to a military pastry chef. At Bitters, Purchase has expanded the options for non-meat-eaters, and is trying to make everything just a bit more healthy and fresh.

“Since I’ve started working here, we have introduced vegan and vegetarian specials … our desserts are being homemade from here on in…” she says.

She’s tried to phase-out the white breads with more whole wheat, and has been baking fresh rolls in the morning to go with their soups. She’s also implemented theme days like ‘Mexican Mondays’, and hopes to keep things fresh and exciting around there.
Bartender Adam Reid says one of the biggest changes since Purchase arrived is the kitchen is being run in a much more environmentally friendly way.

“We try to compost whatever we can, and we’ve been recycling a lot more since she got here, so I’m really happy to be part of that too.”

(Whale pun)
There is a new sports pub at 23 Holdsworth Court, the spot in between New Gower Street and George Street, right across from Jungle Jim’s: Whalen’s Pub & Grill is owned and operated by Karen Rutledge and Curt Whalen, and opened just last month.
Besides the obvious sports-themed atmosphere, they have live music every Friday and Saturday night. Rutledge says for now, it’s just a pub—not yet a grill. There is a kitchen in the back, but it will be a couple of months before they have it up and running.
Rutledge says they’ve started seeing people pop in off the street to check it out, and then come back again the next week—like true regulars. That’s the kind of atmosphere she says she wants to promote. When you’re not looking at your friends, you’ll probably be looking at the high-definition ceiling-mounted projector—with a 92” image(!)

To promote a true fan flavour, Rutledge says if you drop in during the playoffs wearing a jersey (of any team, not just playoff teams), you get happy hour prices all night long.

Sad news for men in search of clothes: Melon, voted Best Clothing Store for men in our Best of St. John’s 2007 awards, has closed its doors. Details are hazy: one day it was there, and the next day it was completely empty, aside from a few lonely-looking free newspapers in the window.

Owner Geoff Meadus could not be reached for comment.