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Bridge Brewing opening up tasting room on Lonsdale Avenue

North Van craft brewery taking over former home of The Portly Chef restaurant
Bridge Brewing
Bridge Brewing owners Leigh and Jason Stratton are getting ready to open a new tasting room at the former location of The Portly Chef on Lonsdale Avenue. photo Paul McGrath, North Shore News

Local ties will remain strong at a popular Lonsdale Avenue location, with craft beer barons Bridge Brewing announcing that they will be bringing a tasting room to the space that formerly housed The Portly Chef restaurant.

The new room, which will offer full restaurant service along with a full complement of Bridge beers on tap as well as wine and cider, will be a companion site to Bridge’s current brewery and tasting room location.  

“We have been bursting at the seams at our current location for a number of years, and of course we want to be able to accommodate all of our guests,” said Leigh Stratton, who founded and owns Bridge Brewing along with her husband Jason. “We also wanted to be part of Lonsdale because it is such an up-and-coming neighbourhood and we can really offer something unique there.”

Stratton said the move into the space formerly occupied by The Portly Chef was a perfect one for Bridge, which became one of the original breweries involved in the Lower Mainland’s craft beer boom when it first started selling brews such as North Shore Pale Ale in 2012. The Portly Chef was another family-owned North Shore favourite, founded by chef Jeff Batt and his wife Emily around the same time that Bridge Brewing was setting up shop. Jeff sadly passed away last May, and while Emily kept the restaurant running for several months after Jeff’s death, The Portly Chef closed for good last month.

When the folks at Bridge learned that The Portly Chef was shutting down, they knew that they wanted to be the ones to step into the popular community space.  

“We’ve always been fans of The Portly Chef,” said Stratton. “We knew it was right for us. We really liked what they created and we wanted to continue the legacy of great food, great customer service, and really appealing to the locals.”      

Stratton hinted that chef Jeff – known for creating big, bold, generously portioned and generally delicious dishes from scratch – will be honoured in some way when the new space opens.

The new tasting room will have a full kitchen featuring the same tacos that are a hit at the brewery as well as burgers and other beer-inspired food options. All of Bridge’s beers, including test batches and special releases from the brewery, will be available in 16-ounce glasses for $6 or 20-ounce flights for $7, although growler fills and off-sales won’t be permitted due to the location’s food-primary restaurant licence. The space, with hours of 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily with midnight closings Thursday through Saturday, will have a 58-person capacity inside as well as a 10-person patio right on Lonsdale.

Bridge is aiming to have the new space, located at 1211 Lonsdale Ave., open by mid-March.