After eight years as one of the cornerstones of James Bay, The Superior is closing its doors Dec. 23.
No more open stage, no more delicious food by Torin Egan (he is leaving for a new adventure), but The Superior will live on when it reopens Feb. 14, 2013 as a modern supper club; open Thursday and Friday evenings with a prix-fixe menu (available on the website Monday mornings) and live music by new house band Dave Lang and the Twin Otters (reservations recommended).
The space will also be available for private events, weddings and fundraisers, says owner Lisa Boehme, who is a member of the Victoria Wedding Collective.
Lisa’s husband, Kevin Hernandez is taking over as head chef and is bringing his experience cooking West Coast flavours in Seattle, Portland and Bellingham north of the boarder, with the same focus on local, organic product. They also plan to host special guest chefs monthly.
“We want to provide a nice kitchen for up and coming chefs to showcase what they can do,” says Boehme. “Just like we did with the open stage for performers.”
When Boehme found out chef Egan was leaving, she knew it was the end of the current chapter for The Superior and that it was time to make a change. Unfortunately, the current model, which boasts live performance (by donation) and a standard food and drink menu hasn’t been working.
“People just don’t understand that you can’t just come watch the show. We’re a restaurant. We contribute to the tip jar, and we ask that others do too, but we also ask that they contribute to The Superior … A lot of the time, that doesn’t happen and people are coming in just to drink tea all night,” says Boehme. “Because people are thinking small, they don’t see the larger picture.”
The big picture is that The Superior is just one of three restaurants/live performance venues closing their doors this month; along with The Fort Cafe (742 Fort, Dec. 15) and The Well (821 Fort, Dec. 31). The closing of these three venues and their stages will no doubt affect Victoria’s music and arts community in a negative way.
“Our hearts as owners are there. We want to support local,” says Boehme. “I started the open stage because my daughter is a fiddler and needed a place to play. Young upcoming performers need to learn how to work a stage, how to work a job, how to make a contract, how to deal with people not necessarily paying attention to them. It started that way, and we’ve had a lot of those people on our stage. And I’ve had to say to parents, ‘No, you can’t just come in for free and sit down and watch your son play — because this is a restaurant.’”
The Superior stage has played a part in the careers of Emily Braden, Oliver Swain, Daniel Lapp, Paul Laverick, Maureen Washington and emerging performers Fox Glove, the Bastion Jazz Band (led by Aaron Watson) and Matt Goud (of Northcote).
The Well hosts poetry, music, art, film and more in its eclectic and holistic atmosphere, which also offers groceries, new and used books and an Indian-fusion style menu. Owner, Hopeton Anderson says he is looking for a smaller, less expensive location in which to reopen.
The Fort Cafe will reopen with a similar format at a new location in the future. The Fort Cafe team has been busy raising the funds needed for the move through a crowd-funding website (kapipal.com/supportthefort) and have already raised more than $20,000 towards the cause.
“Supporting local businesses is huge,” says Boehme. “You have to support what you love or they’ll be gone.”
The Superior is closing its doors after hosting its already sold-out fifth-annual open stage jam session hosted by Aaron Watson Sun., Dec. 23.
Dave Lang and the Twin Otters (Dec. 20), Foxglove (Dec.21), and Oliver Swain (Dec. 22) will also be taking the stage before the final celebration.
Reservations are available at 250-380-9515 or thesuperior.ca. M