High Society Comes to Toronto

groucho_guinness

Here is one of those things that it is simply hard to believe no one has thought of before.  According to this morning’s Canada.com, a theatre in Toronto is experimenting with a new idea, serving alcoholic beverages to movie patrons.

“It went very well,” said Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications Cineplex Entertainment. “Our guests were happy and we’re delighted.”

Movie-goers who are of legal drinking age can pay $5 to sit in a VIP auditorium where in-seat food service is already offered and order alcoholic drinks. Beverage service stops once the movie begins. A beer costs $4.69 plus taxes.

First if all, I can’t believe how long it has taken someone to figure this out.  Yes, adults, who are the ones paying mind you, like to have a bevy now and again while watching a movie.  There certainly is no lack of drinking going on in the movies themselves.  Is that too much to ask?  We can get a beer at a baseball game, why not a movie?

Secondly, kudos to the theatre for selling the beer at such a reasonable price.  I would expect, like everything else that is sold in movie theatre, to pay some astronomical amount of money.  Now I can get a snickers bar and a beer for, I don’t know, somewhere in the 25 dollar range?!?!

— Written & posted by David McBride

Photo courtesy of Dr. Macro.

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Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Trouble A-Brewin’

One of Pennsylvania’s true destinations, the beloved Penn Brewery and Restaurant in the Deutschtown section of Pittsburgh’s North Side, is on the verge of closing its 19th century doors due to failed rent negotiations with its landlord, E & O Partners.

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The Penn Brewery, Pennsylvania’s first and largest “craft” brewer, was founded in 1986 by “Mr. Beer,” Tom Pastorius. In 1990 Pastorius spent millions of dollars installing a custom-made German-style brewery — complete with locally made fermenters and storage tanks — in the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Pastorius’ award-winning beers and accompanying restaurant featuring traditional German dishes turned the architectural jewel into a Pittsburgh icon.

Tom Pastorius, Image © The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tom Pastorius, Image © The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

But Pastorius now has to close the brewery and restaurant due to a 360% rent increase by the historic building’s owners, E & O Partners, who have been unwilling to negotiate. In an interview with reporters Bob Batz and Bob Hoover from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pastorius said, “E & O decided to increase the square footage that the company’s responsible for. It more than doubled the space from 13,000 square feet to 28,000 by including the outdoor beer garden and loading dock. It also tacked on a bunch of other operating expenses for the entire building on the company’s rent.”

The Penn Brewery is searching for a new location.  In the meantime, the large and heavy brewing equipment must be dismantled and stored – not an easy task – and most of its 50 employees laid off, very difficult news in an area that has closed three additional brewing companies in 2008: John Harvard’s Brew House, Hereford and Hops and the Johnstown Brewing Company (website dismantled).

penn_oktoberfest_web3The last batch of Penn beer was made this week but Penn Brewery has contracted with the Lion Hill Brewery in Wilkes-Barre to continue making its beers with the same recipes and ingredients.  At issue may be maintaining Penn’s hallmark quality in a different and larger facility — Penn won gold and bronze medals at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, for its Kaiser Pils and Oktoberfest.

For more reading on brewing and microbrewing in Pennsylvania and America, check out Pennsylvania’s Breweries and The American Brewery: From Colonial Evolution to Microbrew Revolution .

— Written & Posted by Kathleen Connally

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I have the pleasure of working for a very humorous Scotsman.  A few weeks ago he asked if I could do something on the 17th.  I looked at him cross-eyed and asked him, “Are you kidding?  That’s St. Patrick’s Day!  I can’t work on St. Patrick’s Day!!”

He rolled his eyes and responded jokingly, “You Americans are crazy.”

His reaction made me wonder if we here on this side of the pond perhaps take the holiday, one my friends and I often refer to as the “High Holy Day”, perhaps a bit too seriously.  Is it silly for us to take the day off from work, travel long distances for parades or parties, or pull that tacky shamrock sweatshirt we haven’t worn in a year from out of the back of the closet? 

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Jim Thorpe, PA

There is a sort of “amateur hour” quality to St. Patrick’s Day as well that can be a bit frustrating.  For one thing, it is nearly impossible to get into my local Irish tavern, no less have a barstool waiting for me as on every other day of the year.  You have to squeeze your way to the bar as you navigate a sea of people you’ve never seen in the place before.  And they are all singing one cliché song after.

So I can understand why my Scottish friend may see all this as a bit silly.  But that is also because he doesn’t understand what it means to us here.  There is something uniquely American about St. Patrick’s Day in this country.  For better or for worse, the Irish here have had a very different journey then in other parts of the world.  Any religious aspect has been nearly lost on this holiday.  Now it is a celebration of the heritage and culture that we are lucky enough to have been blessed with.

We get together and toast to our loved ones, proudly boast of where our families originated, or remember with a tear in our eye how our grandfathers would sing along to “Danny Boy”.  Sure there is a lot of silliness to St. Patrick’s Day.  But I am not the only one who ranks it at the top of my list of favorite days of the year.  To us it is much more than green beer, corned beef, or the dreaded “Unicorn Song”.  It is a day where our families multiply to include the millions who have shared similar journeys and familiar stories.

So here’s to a healthy, safe, and laughter-filled St. Patty’s Day.  Slainte, my friends!!

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 8:09 am  Comments (2)  
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FROM THIS PUBLICAN’S PERCH, October 2007

Chris Poh

A friend inquired about the possibility of featuring a particular establishment in this publication. I think he was surprised by the rapid response which questioned the merits of this well respected edifice of fine food and drink. “If a great space, with a fantastic location, featuring outstanding product and service doesn’t warrant inclusion what does,” he asked? My answer was simply this, “…community.”

The worth of a public house is measured by the efforts of its patrons, owners and staff to establish a space that welcomes everyone as equals and treats all who enter with the same regard and respect. It is a community that provides comfort, wise counsel and camaraderie. It is the family front porch of a bygone era, and the parliament of the common man.

In this first issue, our staff’s explorations remained close to home. This being a shared belief that one should celebrate and appreciate one’s own backyard before venturing over the fence. Future editions will include images and stories from pubs located throughout North America with occasional forays beyond.

As the content of this first run came together it was apparent that it was heavily influenced by the spirit and the traditions of those who inhabit the British Isles. This was much more a case of serendipity than a function of design. Had this outcome been a matter of planning, we would not have overlooked those bold Tudors who ascended the English throne under Henry the VII. Before our time is done, the editorial staff will make every effort to recognize the people of Wales and their generous contributions to the life and legacy of the public house.

Published in: on February 6, 2008 at 10:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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