Whistler bar stars are chomping at the bit to find out what's going into the former home of the Savage Beagle. Well, wait no more. While the venue still doesn't have a name, one of the new owners took a few minutes out from hiring, renovating and getting ready to open the new club to share some of their plans for the space.
Jon Tischuk, better known to fellow Whistler residents simply as JT, knows the Whistler club scene pretty well. Originally from Montreal, he first came to Whistler in 1997 and spent a few years with Whistler Blackcomb's ski school.
"At the same time as I was doing Whistler Blackcomb ski school, I was travelling out to Australia. I was actually in Australia working at a ski school over there... and I was starting to work with the club network and the DJ network in Australia," JT explained.
In 2002, he went to work for Tommy Africa's, bringing international touring artists from around the world into Whistler's club scene, producing shows and running tours across Canada.
Now, almost eight years later, the time has come for JT to take the next step, leaving Tommy's to join an exciting new business venture as part owner and general manager. His partners include Brad Baxter, the former owner of Vanity clothing store, Alan Goodall, the owner of Vancouver's popular Barcelona Club, and the Stafford Brothers, (Matt and Chris Stafford), a popular Australian electro house DJ duo who are tied with the Ministry of Sound and already own another successful club, Platinum, on the Gold Coast of Australia.
"I liked the idea of starting fresh, right from the beginning, and picking a new name and hiring a new staff and just having a fresh start, which is really exciting for me, right in Whistler Village," JT said.
"I think the idea is to blend a few different areas together with this new venue. Our main concept here is to take the upstairs lounge and run that a little bit separately, and run it as a lounge."
The daytime lounge will feature an affordable appetizers menu to entice the après crowd in, as well as an independent entertainment program. The lower "nightclub" portion of the venue will operate as another distinct zone.
"So two very distinct areas that will be marketed separately with their own sets of events and entertainment, and a very different feel to it," JT explained.
While both spaces will boast a "fair share" of house and electro, JT is quick to add that they're also going to incorporate a bit of live music, hip hop, dubstep, and top 40 into the mix.
They've completely gutted the space, and as of Monday, construction was almost 75 per cent complete.
"We've reorganized the layout," he added. "...It will have a very different feel to it, and I think it's just going to be a very new and sort of surprising approach to moving around the bar in there."
Located on a prominent corner in the village, they hope that their unique approach and design will resonate with both Whistler residents and visitors.
"Primarily, we want it to be a locals hangout, so of course, we want the locals to be very happy hanging out... at anytime after riding or skiing," he said. "That's our primary focus, to make sure that locals are comfortable in the bar and that there's lots of affordable options for them in the bar."
The hope is to create a strong, signature identity for the new venue, with a name finalized by the end of this week.
"We don't want to rush it. We want to make sure that the name is very appropriate for Whistler and that it also has an appeal to international people, to Vancouver people, to all different markets."
With eight years of experience in Whistler's nightlife industry, JT is all too aware of the unique challenges faced by many local businesses. The secret to their success and longevity in this market, he believes, rests with having solid staff, loyal clientele as well as strong events programming and promotions.
They're aiming to be opened by Tuesday, Dec. 7, and already have a big house show planned with DJ Colette of OM Music booked two nights later, on Thursday, Dec. 9. As well, a show with Hed Kandi is on the books for Dec. 30. Keep an eye on the pages of Pique for more details on their plans for opening parties!