A Reminiscence of Lo Pub

Last night I was looking through my Facebook newsfeed and noticed a friend posting about the end of Lo Pub. I was shocked and my gut sank in. I knew for a while now that Hi Hostel was pulling out of Winnipeg due to lack of bookings, but I honestly felt that Lo Pub would remain open at that location, as it was one of the best places to meet for a pub in all of downtown.

Lets go back now. I remember the very first time I ever heard about Lo Pub, it was December 2007, my kickass friend Alexa texts me one day to tell me "Jack's opening up a pub :D!" Frankly, I never felt like I belonged when I went to Winnipeg, there was absolutely no place in Winnipeg where I felt comfortable at, where I could just relax and be myself, so a new pub opening in the heart of downtown,  by Jack nonetheless, was immediately going to be awesome. I knew Jack for a few years by then as he played in Novillero, one of the best bands to ever come out of Winnipeg, heck - you can catch Jack and the rest of Novillero on the American TV investigation drama show Monk (Episode: Mr Monk Goes to a Rock Concert).

Only weeks after Lo Pub opened, my R3 pal Pat invited me down to Lo for a drink and to catch up, this would be the second time I ever had a beer by Half Pints in my life, which was a bottle of Little Scrapper. One thing I loved about Lo Pub is that they really put an emphasis on local beers first and foremost, so much so that a bottle of Half Pints or Fort Garry was actually cheaper than most macro produced beers. At the time, they weren't yet a vegetarian/vegan eatery, so you could order items such as a Manitoba bison burger or chicken fingers.. heck.. their chicken fingers were some of the best chicken fingers I ever had in my life, organic chicken, hand breaded, served with a side of delicious hand cut fries.. you just couldn't go wrong!

Every time I came into Winnipeg for concerts, job interviews or just to see happy, I would always make a point to drop in at the Lo, and I would make sure to introduce friends to Lo almost every time I went in cuz why not? Lo Pub had a cozy atmosphere where in the winter time you could chill at the couches by the fire and sip on a 20oz pint of Little Scrapper and just chat about life and feel good about everything. There was not a single person I knew who didn't enjoy going to Lo Pub, cuz why wouldn't they? Sure they didn't have 20 beers on tap, but they emphasized on local first, which some pubs and restaurants are only starting to realize today.

Eventually Lo changed their menu and got rid of the burgers and chicken fingers and started to sell mainly vegetarian and vegan dishes. I'm a bit of a meatatarian growing up on a beef farm, but when Jack told me I must try Lo's poutine, I had to. At this period in time, Smoke's Poutinerie hadn't opened up yet, so the vast majority of poutines in Winnipeg (sans BK, KFC, Harveys) were still using shredded cheese (or as I called it.. "raped cheese"). Jack made it known that his poutine actually used curds, which was one of the first in Winnipeg. I did get to try it out and I was giddy with joy as I hadn't seen a poutine with actual curds in over a year at that time. (Review here)

Lo Pub was also known for being an incredibly intimate music venue, so intimate that you could easily be only a few feet away from the musician. Immediately after returning from Quebec City for a summer job, Pat invited me down to see Rock Plaza Central, so of course I said yes! as I saw the band perform at le festival d'été exactly one month earlier. What surprised me wasn't just how awesome they were, but who was subbing on drums for them - they got Jason Tait of the Weakerthans to join them, now that was a real blast.

Looking back over the past 4 years and a bit, I've had so many memories of Lo Pub that I will always cherish. Dozens of pints, running into old friends, lots of great entertainment, funny Reddit vs 4Chan graffiti in the washroom, and most recently - a patio! I wish Jack the best for the future and hope he does re-open Lo elsewhere, if not - I hope he does well at whatever his next stage of life involves. I do hope Lo Pub returns one day, sure it won't ever be the same but a lot of Lo Pub was about being with friends, being able to relax and enjoy a pint with friends, and awesome service by Jack and his staff! Oh and not to forget the hilarious graffiti.

True fact: Lo Pub was on the top 20 list as part of a contest of the Best live music venue in Canada through CBC Radio 3 back in 2009. (Link)

For being a person who generally feels left out, Lo Pub was the single most influential business for me in all of Winnipeg - I made new friends thanks to Lo Pub, tried new beers, have more memories than I can possibly imagine and most of all, actually enjoyed visiting Winnipeg for a first time.

Cheers mes amis!

No comments: