Serving the Community One Drink at a Time

Pubs are often a community unto themselves, but not often do they become a significant member of the exterior community as well.

With that being said, Woody’s Elgin Street Urban Pub is not quite like other pubs.

“Its location on Elgin Street makes it so close to so many things that are . . . comfortable,” owner and director Keith Loiselle said.

He’s referring to City Hall, the city’s community centres, varied churches and the residential area that surround Woody’s.

Loiselle doesn’t see the pub as just a business; it’s an important member of the neighbourhood.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Loiselle took over Woody’s in late 2009, re-opening for business in 2010.

Reimagining the pub’s entire concept, his desire was to create a social hub that would be inclusive — instead of catering to a niche market.

Whether it be a couple celebrating an anniversary or university students on a night out, he wanted Woody’s to be the choice destination. He wanted patrons to feel comfortable; he wanted Woody’s to feel like home.

This isn’t to say that the pub is without ambience. Loiselle drew his inspiration from Toronto’s Drake Hotel, a social club that caters to the Six’s bohemia; serving as a meeting place for artists, musicians and filmmakers.

To channel the same kind of downtown’ feel, Woody’s comes furnished with rustic furniture, wood flooring and brick walls.

And despite its rather recent renovations, it feels as if it has decades of history deep within its walls… partially because it does.

Woody’s Urban Pub has been a part of the Elgin Street culture since 1986 (for reference, Woody Boyd had only been tending bar on Cheers for about three months!). Loiselle remarked on how he now watches long-time patrons of Woody’s waltz into the bar with their kids — who are now in university.

“We’re looking at two generations of people sitting in the pub… and it’s cool to see (how) that’s happened.”

The menu also conveys Woody’s commitment to the community. Head chef Christian Gendreau underlined how they strive to incorporate as many local ingredients as possible, securing their products from local establishments such as Seed to Sausage and Becking’s Poultry Farm for their eggs.

Woody’s menu is full of late-night favourites as well.

Gendreau’s culinary philosophy continues with the thought that simplicity is most effective when it comes to pub grub.

“I don’t want to be fancy for fancy’s sake," he said. "If it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.”

He still likes to get creative though, as he’s introduced dishes such as the loaded 5-Napkin Burger or rotating Mac and Cheese specials to the menu.

For drink, Woody’s has been serving up its own Barn Dog Ale since 2010.

However, Loiselle is not satisfied with simply providing the community with quality food and drink.

Unable to compete in the Byward Market’s Winterlude Stew Cookoff (by technicality), he rounded up other bar and restaurant operators on Elgin and drew the interest of the Ottawa Senators. Soon, the Sens Mile Charity Chili Cook-Off was born, becoming a tradition (with donations going to the Ottawa Senators Foundation).

Since Loiselle was handed the keys, Woody’s Urban Pub has become known for more than just the iconic green lettering painted on the side of the building, it’s turned into an active, generous contributor to the community.

And that’s something to toast!