Tattooed men with facial hair, rustic bar stools, and industrial lighting. Yup, Abe Erb definitely has all that. With such traits, it seems like it could qualify as another hipster hot spot that you would find in Toronto. But let me assure you that this place is far from being just that. </p>
What makes this all-in-one brewery, restaurant, and beer store stand out from all other drinking establishments is not only the fact that it is an all-in-one brewery, restaurant, and beer store, but also the fact that it pays a great tribute to the local heritage of the Waterloo region.
You can even see it in the name itself. Abe Erb is named after the founding father himself, Abraham Erb. Owners and brothers Tony and Rob Theodosiou, who also hail from this city, explained the significance behind the name.
“We thought it was an excellent fit to the type of business that we were trying to run,” said Tony. “Something that’s built from the ground up, just like Abe Erb built this town.”
In fact, a lot of extensive work was put into the creation of this establishment. From the research being conducted, to scoping out local materials for the building’s design and physically assembling the furniture and decorations for countless weeks, the brothers did it all, though they cannot give themselves all of the credit and greatly commemorate the work and effort of their staff.
“They are the foundation of this whole thing,” Theodosiou said.
Abe Erb also shows reverence to Waterloo’s localities through its interior and exterior design. Countless items that contribute to the building’s industrial and heritage theme are recycled from popular Waterloo destinations. The bar tops are made from the remaining Douglas fir beams that were used as St. Jacobs Market’s old roof prior to it being burned down in 2013. The barrels that are hung up on the ceiling were originally from Seagram’s Distillery. But nothing screams Waterloo heritage as much as the front sign. Being the largest sign in the city, and covering 80 per cent of the building’s front facade, it displays a map of Waterloo in 1855.
You can even see this philosophy of Waterloo heritage when looking at the way its drinks are offered. Given the fact that it is a brew pub, there is a wider range of beers and wines and a limited amount of cocktails that are crafted and served.
“We feel that it’s time to do something a little different, [something] that offers things that are made from scratch and are hand crafted,” said Tony.
Rob also agrees: “Everything that has alcohol in it is handcrafted, it took time, it took creativity.” The brothers definitely mean business as they also claimed they don’t even have a fridge in their kitchen.
It’s not just the drinks that the the Theodosiou brothers are making local; it’s the dishes as well. The menus (that will be refreshed every three to four months) consist of dishes from local farms. Right now the two are currently working with a local farm that feeds their pigs with their spent grain (that is present when brewing beer) in order to create better quality sausage.
The overall atmosphere also pays homage to the establishment’s love of locality. Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, or whether it’s late at night with live music playing, the overall aim of the establishment is to make people socialize and mingle with others. Aside from having no televisions, the layout of the tables was purposefully done in such a way that people would have to sit in large groups and potentially with people they’ve never met before. “We’ve seen it happen all the time,” added Tony to further elaborate on this concept.
When asked why the need to pay homage to local culture and Waterloo’s history, Rob said it was the appeal of the overarching attitude that everyone seemed to have.
“It was all about hard work and craftsmanship and knowing your neighbours and having a product that you’re proud of,” which also seems to perfectly summarize Abe Erb’s philosophy as well.
Abe Erb is located on 15 King St. S in Uptown Waterloo. For more information on its services, visit http://abeerb.com.