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Changes on the way for Buck and Ear pub

Joseph Richard Group ventures into Richmond, tasked to transform the iconic Steveston boozer and grill
Buck and Ear
The Buck and Ear pub and grill patio. Photo by PNG

After going from strip club to chicken strips nearly three decades ago, the restaurant and bar attached to the Steveston Hotel — presently called the Buck and Ear Bar and Grill — is likely to undergo yet another major facelift after being bought by a franchise restaurant group.

Joseph Richard Group took the keys of the hotel and pub this month and is to take the once independently owned property and transform it to meet the company’s own food and drink culture.

“It’s our corporate mandate that every guest has an amazing experience everytime they come in. ...We stand behind making sure that our guests are treated the way we would want to be treated,” explained Jessica Wiser, marketing director for Joseph Richard Group.

Wiser could not provide specific details as to how the Buck will change but said “generally speaking” an old restaurant that the group takes over is usually shut down for renovations and then re-launched under the JRG brand.

“We have to work on service and menu standards. We have to ask, how do we change without making too many waves in the community,” she said.

“At this time no finalized details have been confirmed,” she added.

The company did state, however, it will also renovate the hotel rooms and cafe, while maintaining heritage elements of the building.

Wiser said the group will also operate the liquor store and that too will be changed.

“The customer service is amazing, the prices are competitive and there’s going to be someone there to educate you (on selections),” she said.

Wiser added that the group will need to factor in the site's unionized employees when making changes to the pub and liquor store.

Across the Lower Mainland, the company operates 10 “public house” bar and restaurants, a handful of liquor store, three commercial properties and a Downtown Vancouver nightclub.

Wiser said the group is focused on, among other things, customer service, craft beers and popular pub food, some of it with a twist.

Wiser said the public houses have similar menus but also take on the vibe of their respective neighbourhoods. Many are also known to provide live music and DJs.

In Fleetwood, the group operates the rustic-style Edith and Arthur Public House; its name an homage to the neighbourhood’s founders Edith and Arthur Fleetwood.

The Hemingway Public House in White Rock was rebranded from a property similar to the Steveston Hotel — the Ocean Beach Lounge at the Ocean Beach Hotel.

On the menu is a yellow fin tuna and quinoa salad, as well as stuffed chicken wings.

It also offers two-piece halibut and chips for $18 but you can sub the fries for beer-battered fries or edamame beans for two extra bucks. You can also get the fish blackened, grilled or baked.

JRG restaurants also have weekly specials. This week at the Hemingway is a Thai curry soup and a Spanish tuna melt.

“We want to be known as ‘those guys’ who, everything they do is awesome,” said Wiser.

But, for now, new manager Eugene Mow said the group is holding down the fort and trying to learn its “mandate” in the village “to get a sense of what the people of Steveston want from us.”

He called the neighbourhood and the current customer base a “close-knit group.”

Presently, the Buck does have a character and reputation unto its own. In 2013 it was rightly described by Postmedia News as a “longtime favourite hangout for fishermen straight off the boat.”

It’s also Steveston’s beverage epicentre on Canada Day, which the company has stated will continue.