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Church St.Taphouse Looks to Bring Live Music Back to Comox

Church St.Taphouse Looks to Bring Live Music Back to Comox

Church St. Taphouse in Comox is not a sports bar. You won’t find big screen TVs or hear the game blaring over the speakers.

“Instead, we’re focusing on the people,” says co-founder and assistant general manager Chris Morrison, who opened the taphouse with friends Ben Davies and Craig Grant. “We wanted to create a place that everyone, whether it’s employees, locals or visitors, would be proud to call their own.” 

Big common tables encourage chatter amongst neighbours, while the covered, year-round 70-seat patio has three large natural gas fire pits so people can gather no matter the season. It’s a casual, family-friendly pub that’s open seven days a week—until midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends (are you listening, Victoria?)—and this vibrant new watering hole couldn’t have come soon enough for Comox. 

“In the past 10 years [in Comox], we’ve gone from having three pubs downtown to having one,” says Chris. The town’s last live music venue, the historic Lorne Hotel, burned down to cinders back in 2011. “It’s been a bit quiet since they closed. There’s been a massive hole in the community,” says Chris. 

Thankfully, Comox is the midst of a revitalization—and Church St. Taphouse is a big part of that.  

Building a centre-of-the-action pub that would bring back live music and inject some life back into the town was an idea that the taphouse founders had been kicking around for a while. When the right downtown space became available just off the main streets and close to the marina, they got serious. They bought the property, tore down the existing building, and built Church St. Taphouse from scratch. 

The new space is designed in a style the team calls “marine industrial.” It’s a timber-frame construction with visible beams, trusses and splashes of nautical white shiplap. There’s a wood feature bar and three floor-to-ceiling garage doors that open to the patio—“an indoor-outdoor experience that really typifies west coast on Vancouver Island,” says Chris.

Navigating city permits for the building and training up 40 newly hired staff in a flash hasn’t been easy, but Chris says it helps when you have a great team. The partners brought on well-seasoned Whistler expat Nick Dobson as the general manager (formerly of HandleBar) and for back-of-house, Sunshine, a Red Seal chef, to help steer the ship.

“For Ben and Craig growing up, Comox used to be the live music destination. We want to bring that back to Comox.”

“One of the biggest challenges for us has been the absolute demand we’ve had since opening day,” says Chris. To keep things manageable in the 150-seat pub, the team introduced a summer starter menu of chef-inspired pub classics: local organic burgers, buttermilk-brined chicken wings, kale caesars, Mediterranean bean salad, and homemade black bean veggie burgers. Church St. is currently adding to its offerings and should have a 20-item menu come fall. 

And the taps? They have 20 total, with 15 beers, including Island locals like Saanichton’s Category 12 and Courtenay’s Gladstone Brewing, but also Vancouver hotshots like Superflux. To round it off, there’s a mix of on-tap wines and ciders. (Safe driving bonus: the downtown location means locals can walk or bike to Church St. and leave the car keys at home.) 

“The biggest thing for us is that we haven’t even kicked off yet,” says Chris. As Church St. gets into September and beyond, they’ll start featuring a live music program once or twice a month, and build from there. “For Ben and Craig growing up, Comox used to be the live music destination. We want to bring that back to Comox.” 

Take a peek at Church St.’s menu and follow along with them on Instagram

Church St. Taphouse
215 Church St., Comox

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