Irish Pub slated to add a little life to surrounding neighborhood

The sizable Irish pub-style restaurant destined for the Nanaimo railway station this spring has been christened Fibber Magees Station.

Jane and Trevor Ivens, who own The Fox & Hounds Pub a few blocks over on Milton Street, have named their project after a 1950s radio comedy that already has a strong publican following in Ireland.

There’s no definite opening date for the two-storey complex with its maximum occupancy of 168, but Jane estimates they’ll open their doors in late May or early June.

“Fibber Magee was quite a character, and there was a lot of comedy. We just thought it was fitting,” she said. “Irish food, Irish drink, Irish music, and Irish mayhem – that’s our little slogan.”

Contractors are currently working on the building, 85% of which will be leased for Fibber Magees, with the balance to go towards a ticket office for the E&N Railway should passenger train service ever be reinstituted.

The windows have gone in, and the painting, plumbing and electrical work is on track, so Ivens believes they should be ready to start their three or four month refit by February.

Their plans depend in large part on the granting of the liquor and other licences for which they have applied.

Ivens said she and her husband have a great relationship with the Island Corridor Foundation, which has roped in funds from a variety of sources to renovate the train station after it was burned out in a 2007 arson.

Ivens said it would be a major boost to their restaurant were rail service restored, especially if the schedule is reversed and the commuter trains come into Nanaimo later in the day.

But the train isn’t key to their plans.

“We’re not designing it necessarily around tourism, although we appreciate tourism. We’re really designing it to be a neighbourhood-friendly place,” Ivens said.

“We see the downtown as almost like an English village, where people are actually going to come and go, ‘Hey, there’s so much more down here than we thought there was.’ I think [the restaurant] will make a really, really big difference.”

Liquor licence prevailing, Fibber Magees Station will offer 32 different draught beers, with a focus on English, Irish and European selections along with local craft brews.

Meal offerings will include traditional corn beef dinners, lamb stew, and steak and kidney and Guinness pies.

“We’ll be doing breakfast on Saturday and Sunday morning, so the place will open at 9 o’clock ready to watch the British (foot-ball) games,” said Ivens.

“We’ll also have live music céllí nights . . . . It’s like the Irish equivalent of a jam session.

It’s kind of a happy-go-lucky free-for-all.”

Every effort is being made to keep intact the historic nature of the building, which was built in 1920, Ivens said.

“We used as much of the original materials as we could, that aren’t charred or burned. It’s being quite sympathetically restored,” she said.

“We just can’t wait to get it open.”

Source: Matthew Gauk,


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