Monday, January 10, 2011

Early days yet...

As it's a small town, many of you may already know us and it certainly seems like everyone's already heard what we hope to be doing. That said, we'd like to introduce ourselves to those we may not have yet met, and to let you in on our plans to alter the social topography of this little town. Terry and I have decided we'd like to open Antigonish's first brewpub! We're big fans of locally produced, all-natural, food and drink, and of the cozy, laid back vibe of the traditional pubs of the UK and Ireland and we feel such a place would fit into this town quite nicely.

We've been researching, day-dreaming, checking out potential locations, and developing our ideas for about a year now. We moved back to Antigonish this past spring and have just been able to get back to our business planning (after several months of renovating and settling into our tiny new home). It's not going to be easy and it won't happen too quickly–there are many long days of researching, number crunching, exploring regulations, applying for permits, and a lot of money to be raised. And then there'll probably be renovations, and inevitably set-backs, and possibly even nightmares, and so on... But we figured, why not let you all in on the whole process? We'd love to get your feedback as we go along–your suggestions, concerns, ideas will be very helpful to us. We want to hear what you think this town really needs!

So first, the introductions:

Terry Piercey is a Newfoundlander (one might ask what more you need to know?) who has lived in Sackville (NB), Vancouver, Guelph, and Halifax. He's an artist (he makes sculptures, drawings, tiny electronic devices, etc.), carpenter, musician, enthusiastic player of all pub/leisure games (you know, darts, shuffleboard, bocce, shove ha'penny...), and a huge beer enthusiast and home brewer. He loves real ale, IPA's, bitters, peculiars, and stouts, wooden furniture that's well made but knocked around a bit, and he really appreciates nice lighting and appropriate music volumes. And cat videos. He is to be brewmaster and bar manager, as well as our head carpenter and furniture designer (and he'll probably hate this attempt at describing him). Here is a photo of him at one our favourite NS pubs, The Henry House in Halifax. (Have you tried their Best Bitter Special?)

And, unsurprisingly, the other photo is me (Rose Murphy) in the very same place. I'm an Antigonish native, but have lived in Halifax, Sackville, Toronto, and Victoria over the years. I've played in some bands, worked at college radio stations, and, in preparation for life behind a bar, I spent several years studying philosophy. This is also the first time I've ever attempted a blog (so bear with me). But what I really, really love is food. I have worked in restaurants and kitchens (some of you may remember the CafĂ© B2G, my first venture), but I have also worked on organic farms as a WOOFER, in a plant nursery, doing education and outreach for a really great organization called ACORN that supports organic growers across Atlantic Canada, and most recently as a food security researcher and a VOICES Antigonish volunteer. I'll be running the kitchen which will be serving as much locally produced, wholesome and tasty food as you can eat. This will mean doing a lot of back and forth-ing with local producers (happily my sister and her fella run a pretty serious organic garden just outside of town) and growing some of our own ingredients. I'm really encouraged by the number of people producing food in the area–and not just veggies, but organic meat, eggs, cheeses, and fruit, preserves, pastries...

Anyway, this is just a very brief "hello Antigonish" post–we'll be posting a lot more (hopefully) over the next few months. We'll show you some of the pubs, food and beers that have inspired us, and tell you more about our plans, menu ideas, brewing operations, etc.

But most importantly, we really hope to hear from you! Do you think this is a not bad, pretty good, or an absolutely terrible idea? Tell us what you want in a pub! For starters: what you think of our interim name, The Townhouse?

Anyway, until next time, well...



  1. Hi Rose,

    We've met. My name is Phil. I'm married to Sarah O'Toole. I *love* your idea. The Townhouse is a fine name and the description of your vision for the pub appeals to me.

    Are you and Terry interested in taking on partners? Aside from labor, I have some money I'd be willing to invest.

    I'm best reached via this email address: philipgirvan8[at]gmail[dot]com


  2. YES PLEASE!!! I work at the Theatre Festival for 4 months over the summer and this would be a lovely change to the Moonlight.

    p.s. CIDER PLEASE.

  3. Thanks for the feedback - we want more of it!!!
    And cider is definitely on the barlist. Do you have a favourite? Imported (Strongbow, Bulmers) or local (Stutz, Tideview)?

  4. Hi Rose, what a !!!!brilliant idea!!!! I'm sure there would be a good market for this niche in the 'nish. I'm salivating at the thought of sipping an Antigonale, made from local hops and barley, accompanying a local steak and kidney pie (well maybe a cornish pastie -- never did get used to the kidney thing) and perhaps listening to some local musical talent. Not to mention that, as a local micro organic gardener (Admiral Bayfield's Gardens), I'd be happy to help supply the kitchen ...

    Bill Gunn

  5. Sounds like an amazing idea!!!! So long as you don't go down the sad road of Pipers. Make it a pub, not a bar or god forbid a night club! See if you can take over Chuggles or Pats as they are located properly and you won't need to fight to get new planning permission. Perhaps consider an exchange program with your favourite brew pubs throughout the east coast. In this way you can exchange beer kegs, to test the waters for new beers without investing hugh amounts of time (eg. Iron-horse from Charlottetown)

    Good Luck. Cheers

  6. I can't tell you all how much I appreciate the feedback!!! Keep it coming.

    Bill - Sounds like we have a pretty similar vision (we love pasties and steak and ALE pies). And "Antigonale"? Not bad! We'll be very happy to buy whatever we can from you and as many other growers as we can find. I'll be calling you all soon to talk about planning. Even if we're not open by the spring, I hope to start lots of preserving for the kitchen next summer....

    Peter - Good suggestions. I like the keg exchange especially. Is the Iron horse from the Gahan House? And don't worry, we're planning to keep it pretty small, low-key, and cozy!

  7. Great ideas guys and I look forward to having a chance to play some shuffleboard locally as it is so hard to find a table in pubs now (presuming Terry wishes to have one)

    I live locally and just bought a house two minutes from town. I work away for weeks ata time and thus have loads of time off and I'd be more than willing to offer labour of any sort. I might also, in the future, be looking for some part time work!

  8. Yes! Terrific. I've long thought Antigonish could use exactly this, I can't tell you how happy I am someone's taking the initiative. Well done Rose and Terry! I wish you all the best.

  9. I moved here from Calgary and miss the brew house atmosphere. I think it is about time we has somewhere like this in Antigonish.
    I run a comedy production company - Big Fish Comedy - bringing big names to small towns. I have been looking for a great venue to host some comedy shows in the area so once your up and running drop me a line if you are interested in an occasional comedy night with top notch performers.

    I also run a small business consulting firm, so if there is something I can help with or resources I can put you in touch with please let me know. You can reach me through the contact form on my site -

  10. love it- love the idea, the name, everything. I admire your ambitions and know you are just the right people to make this happen. I will spread the word!

  11. great idea! you guys are surely fit for the job. the B2G was awesome and im sure this place will be as well. great news.
    keep at it. i know you ll make it happen
    ill spread the word about the project

  12. Thanks all. I really can't wait to get this place happening and seeing you all in there! And Lisa - we are VERY interested in the comedy nights...