08 Jun GLB Barstool Chats – John Oakes, The Belsize Public House
This is the first GLB Barstool Chat in our new weekly blog series that will introduce you to a number of amazing people running some of the best craft beer bars in Ontario. As they say in Law and Order – these are their stories.
Meet… John Oakes, the owner of The Belsize Public House on Mt. Pleasant and Belsize in Toronto.
What is your role at the establishment
How many years have you been there?
How many years in the industry?
Over 30 – Also the owner of The Harbord House on Harbord Street.
What GLB beer is currently available on tap?
Pompous Ass English Ale and Octopus Wants to Fight IPA
Favourite GLB beer?
Pompous Ass English Ale or Lake Effect IPA
How did The Belsize Public House get started?
I had wanted to be in that location for over 5 years. The former tenant is a friend of mine, and as she wanted to move towards retirement, we began to talk. I felt that the neighbourhood needed a good gastropub featuring awesome local craft beers.
How would you describe the bar to a person who has never been there before?
A true friendly neighbourhood local, with terrific homemade food and great beer on tap.
Where did the name originate from and what does it mean?
I tell people it’s so I know where I’m going… I like the ring of it and it reflects what we strive to be in the neighbourhood.
Tell the GLB customers something about the bar that the general public might not know.
The establishment was once a bank, and also once a headstone store selling to future occupants of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. I like to think it’s in its best use now.
What is it that you love about the hospitality industry that gets reflected in your day to day role?
People. Having people enjoy themselves in a surrounding that we have created is awesome. And I don’t mean only our guests. My staff are family.
What other bars do you frequent when you’re not at Belsize?
I don’t have much free time, but I love Bar Hop, and The Rebel House.
Tell us why your bar is a true neighbourhood hangout.
We reflect and appeal to the folks who live here. Our staff know most of our guests by name, and treat them like family.
Tell the GLB supporters out there reading this about your food menu. What makes it stand out?
My chef, Jimmy Fu, is crazily passionate about food, and spends most of his time researching and trying new foods. I work with him to incorporate his ideas into things that our guests will recognize, but often with a twist.
Get it off your chest – what have you wanted to tell your customers that you haven’t up to date?
Thank you and keep coming!