The Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans Club (The Taurus Club ) on the corner of Main and 23rd closed doors in 2019 after 71 years in operation. The space sat empty until local hospitality industry duo Patryk Drozd (Boxcar) and Simon Fallick (The American) picked it up in September of 2020.
Patryk and Simon, who were both patrons of the Taurus Club prior to it closing, came into the project with the intention of seeing the iconic club revitalized. They wanted it to continue to act as the neighbourhood pub and community gathering place they had both enjoyed over the years.
It has taken some elbow grease (as well as many meetings with community groups, and countless hours of researching archival photographs and ephemera), but a year (and a bit) since taking possession, The Taurus Club is finally ready to re-open under it’s new name: “Hero’s Welcome”.
I took a tour of the 150-seat 3,000-square-foot space earlier this week and the thing that struck me the most (beyond the sheer size of 150-seats and 3,000-square-feet) was Patryk and Simon’s shared respect for the history that they have inherited by taking over the Taurus Club and the excitement they have in passing on the richness of that history to their patrons. These guys want to connect with people. They take the approach that a business is like an ecosystem: when past patrons, new patrons, neighbours, and community groups feel seen and appreciated, they will be invested in the success of the business. I respect this approach – and before you roll your eyes, it isn’t just talk. Patryk and Simon have worked hard to integrate Hero’s Welcome with its past, present and future community, and evidence of this is all around.
There are three rooms at Hero’s Welcome. The first room – the one that you step into as you enter through the front doors – boasts the majority of the 150 seats, as well as a piano, stage, bar, photo booth, and a few dart boards. This is the room that will host karaoke and trivia nights, as well as bingo and meat draws. The second room (The Games Room) features a bank of pinball machines, a foosball table, pool tables, skeeball, hightop seating and (easily) 100 framed archival photographs. At just 15 seats (with army green walls and a chandelier) the third room is the smallest, and will be used for small parties, private bookings, and community meetings.
Almost every wall of Hero’s Welcome showcases a photograph, painting, flag or uniform. Some of the artifacts came by way of club scrapbooks, some by way of the Canadian military archives, and some of it was even found hiding in an old piano when the team was cleaning up the space – but all of it tells a story, and preserves a past.
Honouring the spirit of The Taurus Club runs deeper than showcasing memorabilia, though. During our visit, Patryk and Simon explained more than once that they want to make sure they are paying homage to the club by keeping it simple and approachable in order to create an environment where people could just come to relax and connect. This attention to approachability extends to the menu.
The food concept will be unfussy but high quality, developed with the help of executive chef Monroe Webb, who led the food and baking program at Kitsilano’s popular Beyond Bread. Expect a menu of classic bar snacks and (naturally) ‘Hero Sandwiches’.
To drink, there will be eight beers on tap. In true veterans club style, none will be “fancy”… just a lager or two, a few IPA’s, and a couple of pale ales, all local. I haven’t seen a detailed cocktail menu yet, but I have heard a few of the names floating around and I already know I’ll be ordering a ‘Juno Beach’ – whatever it may be.
Hero’s Welcome plans to officially open on December 27th. Hours will be seven days a week from 4pm to late. Keep your eyes peeled on their IG feed (here) for opening day details. In the meantime, take a look inside…