KELOWNA - Selling beer in wine country doesn’t bother P.J. L’Heureux, founder and president of Craft Beer Market. Nor does doing it an iconic location, in this case the former Paramount Theatre on Bernard Avenue which opened in the '50s and where generations of locals grew up watching movies
“We love old buildings,” L’Heureux laughs. “And we have lots of wines and spirits too.”
There are 112 beers on tap at Craft, 50 per cent of them B.C. craft beers served through vast taplines that line the ceiling of the cavernous space — it is a former theatre and it shows. The restaurant seats 450 on two levels.
Craft is the anchor tenant for the former Paramount space, refurbished by Ronmor Developments of Calgary. He’s had plenty of practice putting them together. Besides Kelowna, L’Heureux and his team have opened Craft Beer Markets in Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa and second location to their original in Calgary.
That’s seven in the last seven years, he adds, and three since October. L’Heureux bristles slightly when you call it a chain and claims the rapid expansion phase is over.
“It’s time to get back to doing what we do which is run great places," he says.
Craft is the latest entry in the burgeoning craft beer market in Kelowna and perhaps the most high-profile sitting across from the Sails in downtown Kelowna.
It joins Red Bird Brewing, Kettle River Brewing and BNA brewpub, all opened within the last three years, and counters the closing announced last month of Tree Brewing’s Kelowna brewery. The Tree Brewing Institute will remain open but brewing operations are moving to Vancouver.
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