One thing COVID-19 didn’t hinder was the opening of Langley’s latest brewery and restaurant.
The plans to open Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks (9339 200A St.) have been in the works for sometime, but what founders Jamie Overgaard and Stephen Gregorig didn’t anticipate it that they would be embarking on this venture amid a pandemic.
“Who knows what’s going to happen with all of this in weeks, right? We could be right back to the drawing board – with the COVID situation we don’t really know,” said Overgaard.
“Definitely a lot of uncertainty out there, but we think we’ve put together a pretty good crew – good place… we’re hoping we can tease a few people out at least,” he laughed.
During the planning process the Langley residents said they actually “went back to the drawing board” with their design concept and decided to add a full kitchen and expand their menu, which slightly altered their timeline to open.
COVID-19 had little impact on getting the business ready to open, but now it’s playing a big role in how it operates.
“It’s now that it’s impacting things, obviously being open and trying to get people through the doors and make sure we’re following all the rules with social distancing… that’s kind of where the real work has been focused,” Overgaard explained.
The team has held some soft openings leading up to this past weekend – the grand opening – and Overgaard said they were busy.
“There’s been a lot of buzz,” he said.
On Monday, Township council will meet to hold a liquor licensing hearing to consider the restaurant’s request to increase its overall occupant load from 102 to 147 people through the addition of a new licenced area, a 45 person covered patio.
Although the approval of structural change applications is covered by the province, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch allows council to “endorse” or “not endorse” applications for permanent additions of patios, according to the Township.
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Currently, Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks employs about 20 people, which Overgaard said are “almost exclusively from the Langley area.”
So where did the pair get the idea for the name?
“Our name was inspired by the colourful legends of smugglers and miners who travelled these parts during the Gold Rush,” they explain on their website. “The Smugglers Trail was a secret route for enterprising outlaws to transport gold, beer and other desirable goods through these parts, while dodging British tax collectors and authorities.”