That Chvrch of John is a new music venue is only part of the story—albeit an easy one to focus on, given the beleaguered state of Edmonton’s shrinking roster of venues. The new space, located on the southern end of the Grande Hotel downtown, around the corner from Denizen Hall, soft-launched on January 22 and has its grand opening slated for Valentine’s Day. Music may form a large part of its raison d’être, but Chvrch of John will also feature a lot of familiar faces from Edmonton’s burgeoning cocktail scene.
“Edmonton’s been pushing, definitely building in a really strong direction, especially the last year or two,” Kris Harvey says. “We were lucky that we have the opportunity to put that in front of people and keep the education growing. Right now I think the demand for it is a little bit bigger than, necessarily, the opportunities or places to come and enjoy [it].”
Collaboration has been a key factor of the business since its inception. The cocktail menu was built by Jordan Watson of Cartago Cocktail Co, with assistance from Chvrch of John’s assistant general manager, Nic Mac. Harvey, Chvrch’s operating partner, worked primarily with Ramon Miranda of Color de Vino and Corso 32 to build a wine list that features sparkling wines. (“There’s not much more that I like than a glass of Lambrusco or a glass of Prosecco after a long day at work,” Harvey says.) Their kitchen is headed by Miles Quon of The Lingnan restaurant; the menu also features a dessert plate of chocolates selected by Jacqueline Jacek of JACEK Chocolate Couture.
Chvrch of John features a large staff of 40, many of whom work at Edmonton’s other cocktail mainstays: Natasha Trowsdale and André Van Bober of Woodwork, Leland Morrison and Zachary Lecerf of The Black Pearl, Luis Perez of BLVD, and Happy—who just goes by that first name, according to Harvey, and is a former apprentice of bartender Brendan Brewster (formerly of North 53 and BLVD).
It wouldn’t be a truly Edmonton business if there wasn’t some kind of snag in the process, though, and unfortunately that manifested as a delay in fully opening Chvrch of John’s kitchen.
“I definitely understand why there’s a lot of failing businesses in the hospitality [industry] and failing venues, because it’s difficult,” Harvey says. But he acknowledges that the construction team has done everything it could and that the delays were on the city’s end. Fortunately, the business was still able to open with a limited menu: two sandwiches (one vegetarian, one meat) and the aforementioned chocolate plate.
Starting on February 11 on alternating Thursdays from 6 pm to 9 pm, the space will house the Chvrch Cocktail Club in the venue’s private room.
“People can just come in—[there’s] no cost—they can get some education, talk to some of these bartenders and some of these cocktail developers and some of these reps we’ll have coming and going, and try some of our cocktails as well as feature cocktails for a reduced price, and be able to just help grow that part of the business,” Harvey explains. On opposite weeks, they plan to do the same thing with craft beer.
“I think the biggest thing is education for us, always,” he says. “So not just education of the things that we really like, but just in general, cocktail culture.”
Grand Opening: Sun, Feb 14
The Chvrch of John
10260 – 103 Street