Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Not affiliated in any way’: New restaurant opens in former Chuck’s Burger Bar location


Downtown Victoria has a new eatery and watering hole.

Block Kitchen + Bar opened this past weekend near the corner of Yates Street and Wharf Street in the space that was formerly occupied by Chuck’s Burger Bar, then Lumberjack’s Bar and Grill. 

The owners of Block Kitchen + Bar have said that they have no ties to Chuck’s Burger Bar or Lumberjack’s Bar and Grill that moved in afterward at 538 Yates Street.

“I’m fully aware of the history of Chuck’s and Lumberjack’s, but there’s not any connection there,” co-owner and general manager Andy Burke told Victoria Buzz.

“We are not affiliated in any way.”

“We’re a completely new entity, totally unrelated,” said Burke.

Burke had been a partner and manager for the original location of Block which was in Banff, Alberta years ago and he said that he decided to get back into it as COVID-19 restrictions started to loosen.

He had the idea to get back into Block Kitchen + Bar while walking his dog past the defunct Yates Street restaurant.

“No one was jumping on that space and I saw the potential in it,” Burke told Victoria Buzz. 

So the Banff-born Block Kitchen + Bar’s new location was set in motion with Victoria being the second of its kind. 

“Things materialized and we took the space over in September of last year and we essentially had to gut  everything because it was neglected and disgusting and terrible in every way,” Burke said.

“The result now is we’ve basically overturned every square inch and in that process made it our own.”

“It looks totally different and everything in it is brand new.”

Victoria Buzz asked Burke if he had plans to implement a code of conduct in a public way so patrons and staff can feel safe in that space, considering the past endeavours that have been in that space.

Burke said now that opening weekend is behind him he is going to make staff training with Good Night Out Vancouver a priority. 

Good Night Out is a non-profit organization that builds community capacity to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Their focus is primarily on the hospitality, music, arts and nightlife sectors. 

One of the first steps they take when hired by a business to work with their employees is setting up a code of conduct to protect patrons and employees alike.

Burke told Victoria Buzz he has a code of conduct made which he plans on implementing properly after working with Good Night Out.

They hope to be one of Victoria’s new go to spots despite the location’s sordid past. 

Their success in a tourist-centric destination like Banff bodes well for their ability to survive and thrive in a place like Victoria, where downtown restaurants depend on the tourism industry heavily.

Executive chef and co-owner Stéphane Prévost brings with him a global palette and the menu will reflect Izakaya style Japanese small plates and snacks with a gastropub feel. 

Block embraces their identity as a “tight quarters” restaurant proudly saying that it encourages guests to engage with friends and neighbours alike.

They pride themselves on featuring murals and artwork by local artists and Block will have limited media, such as TVs, to not distract their patrons from engaging with one another in a purely social way.

Block’s Banff flagship is also known for its cocktail program which the Victoria location will embrace wholeheartedly. Local head bartender Ryan Simpson is a local cocktail bartender who is adept in his craft and will make Block’s libations come to life. 

Reservations can be made online.

Block Kitchen + Bar

  • Where: 538 Yates Street, downtown Victoria
  • When: 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. weekdays and open until 1 a.m. on weekends
Curtis Blandy

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