Bob Savage enjoyed spending time in a pub in Hawaii called the Rusty harpoon, there are more gulls than harpoons on the North Shore so six and one half years ago he opened the Rusty Gull pub in a narrow building fronting on 1st. Ave in North Vancouver.
Space restrictions are often the mother of invention in the hospitality industry. Faced with the reality of a long narrow interior and no room to spread out to include a beer and wine store Bob came up with what he calls a beer boutique.
It's a small off sales outlet near the main entrance across from the kitchen and is covered under a regular off sale license. Traditionally 0ff sales have been considered an across the bar transaction.
“We called it a beer boutique because it was so small,'' says Bob. He goes on that as well as the major beer companies' products they sell imports and will be handling the micro-breweries in the near future. “More and more people are asking for the smaller breweries beer.” Whistler, Island Pacific, Shaftebury and Okanagan Spring are micros' with taps at The Rusty Gull as well as Rusty's best bitter from the Horseshoe Bay Brewing Co. They combine to make up about 50 per cent of the pubs draught sales and Bob mentions that more and more people are blending their beer half and half.
The Marine theme of the 65-seat pub is exemplified by a collection of large photographs from Versatile Pacific's archives. Bob is convinced that everyone must have worked at the yards at one time or another judging by the number of people who have some connection to the pictures. One example is a photograph of three women sitting at a bar taken during the war years. The women were working at the shipyard on the Victory Ships and one of them arrived in the pub one day and "asked if she could sit below the picture of herself."
“The Book of Great Canadian Watering Holes”
– Michael Caldwell:
“Serving the local residents and visitors for more then twenty years, this watering hole is a true neighborhood pub. Located in a residential area of lower North Vancouver , it enjoys a panoramic vista of downtown Vancouver and Canada Place . Time your visit right and see a mammoth cruise ship backing out to begin its journey to Alaska . By today's standards the place is relatively small – 2000 square feet and seating for 85 patrons. But its size and interior décor combine to create a real “pub experience.” One wall is made of old red brick. There is an antique back bar and pressed metal ceiling, along with an attractive brick ledger stone fireplace. Flooring is a combination of hardwood, patterned carpeting and intricate tiles around the bar. Serving up the right mix of classy and casual since opening, the Rusty Gull has become well known for their excellent food and live entertainment. They proudly boast that this place has been the North Shore's home for live music for more then two decades. Musicians play here four nights a week… every week...as they have been since opening weekend back In 1983 .”
RUSTY GULL A HIGH FLYER
Susan MacDonald finds her perfect pub in North Vancouver:
A few weeks ago I said a lot of nice things about the Gillnetter Pub out in Port Coquitlam on the Pitt River right where it flows into the Fraser. I thought the beer menu was boring, however, which led to a wish for a pub that combined the Gillnetter's view with the selection of draft at Maillardville's French Quarter.
Then I asked readers to nominate their favorite pub and said we'd offer a prize: $50 for a night out.
I just want to say sorry, folks - I know the reader should be always right in these things, but I've found the pub with the winning combination of food drink and view.
But don't worry, my boss won't let me have the $50, so it's going to one of you.
Were I writing to me, however, it would be about the Rusty Gull in North Vancouver, and its panoramic view of Vancouver Shipyards, Burrard Inlet and downtown Vancouver.
Even the neighbors are interesting: An eclectic bunch that includes a used-tool place a modeller's supply shop and a sexy lingerie store.
Something for everyone.
Inside the Rusty Gull, large photographs of wartime shipyard action line the walls. (I like the one of the group of ''Rosin the revetters” having lunch.
The Gull bas 18 beers on tap, including three imports and cottage brews from Okanagan Spring, Granville Island Breweries, and Russell.
Great beer, and the food - from an extensive menu of pub fare - was good too.
I blew six weeks of Weight Watchers with one mountainous burger and onion rings, but what a way to go!
John liked his beef burgundy and also tasted enough of his mom's fish and chips to decide they were as good as those at the Stone's Throw, his standard for pub food.
Our bill for four pints, a Dubonnet and food was $38.
The Rusty Gull, 175 East First St., North Vancouver is open every day until midnight (food until 10 p.m.). There's entertainment on weekends.
Susan MacDonald is The Province special projects editor.