Spinnakers partially reopens, nine days after fire

A section of Spinnakers Brewpub will reopen Friday, nine days after a major fire forced the waterfront restaurant to close.

The front bar and the upper pool table area will be open as of 4 p.m. with full beverage service and a limited menu, owner Paul Hadfield said Thursday.

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Damage from the Nov. 23 fire was not as bad as originally thought, so Hadfield expects the restaurant to be open before Christmas and the full upper floor to be open by January.

Contractors have built walls to separate the sections that need work from the area that is open.

To achieve the speedy reopening, Hadfield is paying for the repairs out-of-pocket, instead of waiting for the insurance process that would have held up renovations until February.

“Our biggest cost in this whole thing is not being open,” Hadfield said. “The process we’re going through is so much less expensive than the typical [insurance] process.” All employees were told they would be paid until the business reopens, a move lauded by customers who told Hadfield the staff is key to their loyalty.

“It’s my responsibility not to allow a normal insurance process to get in the way of our relationship with our staff,” Hadfield said. “To be who we are and do what we do, it’s of the utmost importance that we stick together.”

Hadfield said that when he went to the City of Victoria in the early 1980s with a plan to open Canada’s first brewpub, he was told it was illegal to brew and serve beer on the same premises.

Hadfield lobbied to have federal regulations changed, paving the way for countless brewpubs across Canada after Spinnakers opened its doors in 1984.

He said he’s using that same gumption in his approach to the renovations.

“I’m going to be tenacious as I was way back when,” he said.

“We called it pig-headed determination to get this thing done, and that’s the approach we’re taking this week.”

Hadfield said it’s important to restore normal business, especially considering that the restaurant deals with a large number of suppliers across Vancouver Island. “All those suppliers who rely on us, they’re so committed to what we do that if we don’t buy, they don’t sell,” he said.

Hadfield said he’s overwhelmed by support from the community. The Island Chefs Collaborative announced Thursday that it is donating $12,000 to help Spinnakers reopen.

Staff have been working even with the restaurant closed, some helping with the cleanup in the building and others at 27 beer tastings set up in liquor stores around lower Vancouver Island.

Spinnakers is still collecting revenue from its craft brewery and has bookings to the guest rooms, which are in a separate building.

Most of the fire damage was to the roof and top floor, with smoke and water damage to the main floor. Victoria Fire Department inspectors determined that the fire started in the floor under the fireplace on the second floor, due to an erosion of bricks in the hearth.

Hadfield credits the fire department with saving the building and preventing further damage. “They went so far as to remove the model ships above the fireplace and tuck them away for safety,” he said. “It’s beyond words.”


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