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BEHIND BARS: Music, flowers and festive cheer at The Local

Casual high-end dining, sports and a vibrant atmosphere make The Local a Victoria favourite
A bartender at The Local in Victoria. (Courtesy Jeremy Petzing)

By John Atkinson

Keeping things Local is both the name and mantra for owner Jeremy Petzing.

Petzing, 51, opened The Local back in 2006, initially as a high-end dining bar, before it “morphed into a more casual high-end food and drinks venue,” he said.

“Our story then began a new chapter when we organically transitioned into offering a sports-driven atmosphere with rugby, soccer, Canadian/American football, hockey, basketball and golf all prominent.”

Boasting a huge garden patio bursting with hanging baskets of flowers and overlooking the Inner Harbour on busy Wharf Street, The Local soon became popular on weekend nights. Petzing created a ‘supper club’, playing popular music for dancing from names like the Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen.

“We love our music, sunshine, flowers, sport and great food & drink. That’s what we’re all about.

“We also love to have families. In fact, all walks of life. Families, middle-aged, older and locals. So many locals (no pun intended) support us and many come from outside of the province to enjoy our experience and add another layer into the equation of a great place to be.”

The patio at Victoria’s The Local adorned with Christmas lights in 2022. (Courtesy The Local Instagram)
The patio at Victoria’s The Local adorned with Christmas lights in 2022. (Courtesy The Local Instagram)

The Local averages around 50 staff, though that rises to 75 in the summer and drops to 35 in the winter. “Many of our team have been here over five years, which is unique for a hospitality industry which has been quite transient in the past,” added Petzing. Petzing also owns the Farmhouse, a cafe beside The Local.

Looking into the future, Petzing is hoping to continue creating a wonderful customer experience to ensure people want to come back.

“We enjoy what we have to offer and work hard to make it so. People texting or calling and telling the staff that they had a great experience is music to our collective ears. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. So it can be very humbling but also extremely rewarding.”

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Q&A with Jeremy

1. What is your signature drink?

The Local Lemonade. It’s been here since day one and features citrus, vanilla vodka, lemonade soda water and freshly squeezed lemon (you can also get it in a jug). The dark lager 33 Acres of Darkness is also a wonderful beer. We support many local breweries including Phillips, Driftwood and 33 Acres.

2. Signature food or dish?

Our wings and nachos are out of this world. And our half-pound hamburger is up there too. Our wings are cooked three times; baked, deep-fried and sauteed. Our nachos are stacked with cheese and done in three ways, with the cheese running right through the nachos. We offer very generous portions, including the half-pound burger which comes with bacon and all the trimmings.

A bartender at The Local in Victoria. (Courtesy Jeremy Petzing)
A bartender at The Local in Victoria. (Courtesy Jeremy Petzing)

3. What makes a great bartender?

Someone who listens to the customer. Someone who has a great sense of humour; and someone who can really engage a customer in a stimulating conversation. We know right out of the shoot if they’re going to work out or not.

4. Where does The Local fit within the fabric of Victoria’s pub and bar culture?

We fit in by being a beginning-of-the-night to the middle-of-the-night destination. We close at midnight but pack in the offerings of dinner, drinks and great music. And people tend to transfer us into something a bit more fancy-driven in the evenings. During the day we have a wonderful patio, which is perfect for a great meal and a few beverages.

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5. Your greatest experience at The Local?

There have been many. One that stands out though was a fairly recent party we had this summer with a guest list featuring the likes of Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner, Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie. A ‘who’s who’ of the NHL world. It was a wonderful party and they were wonderful people.

The Local serves up burgers, nachos and more with a view of the Inner Harbour. (Courtesy Jeremy Petzing)