Brix & Mortar: Yaletown's Brix and George merge and relaunch

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When Brix restaurant opened up in Yaletown in 1999, the neighbourhood didn’t have a great many restaurants. Even in 2005, when Brix owners David Hannay and Patrick Mercer opened up the more lounge-y George right behind and below Brix, Yaletown still hadn’t found its current groove as a stylish neighbourhood packed with places to have a bite and a drink.

Now, with a long-running dream of merging the two spaces and refreshing their approach in order to give Yaletown the neighbourhood spot the locals tend to favour, Hannay and Mercer are relaunching as Brix & Mortar, kicking off a new chapter in their restaurants’ history.

For those brides-to-be and loyal special occasion celebrants who have grown so fond of Brix’ service and signature courtyard space, first off, fear not: There won’t be drastic changes. Rather, customers who love Brix for what it offers, from its robust wine program to its charming atmosphere, will find Brix & Mortar gives them more available tables and the same kind of cozy, “urban oasis” vibe. It’s also a way for the restaurant to be able to book and seat customers and offer the Brix experience even while the upstairs is closed for private events, as it often tends to be.

As far as aesthetics go, this big changes have been happening down at George, though there will be modest tweaks upstairs for now, and perhaps more farther down the line.

Hannay and Mercer point out the details of the new downstairs at Brix & Mortar, including stunning light fixtures and an appealing warmly blue banquette, but the showstopper is likely to be the Brix & Mortar downstairs patio.

A half-wall of Canadian cedar encircles the redesigned covered year-round patio, which will boast a glass cover that allows the beauty of the heritage structure to show through. Lux elements, like three seven-tiered chandeliers, and a cozy dining room feel, aim to give Brix loyalists a new, perhaps even more welcome, option for a full meal or glass of wine and charcuterie board.

Hannay calls this new outdoor space a “patio oasis,” while Mercer is quick to point out they aren’t really interested in competing with the patios of neighbouring spots–after all, Yaletown overall is prime patio territory–but instead are competing with themselves and their own upstairs courtyard.

The duo consider themselves, as Mercer puts it, “born-again restaurateurs,” who are thrilled to have the opportunity to refresh their restaurant armed with the savvy of over 15 years’ experience in Yaletown.

Yaletown itself is an important factor for Hannay and Mercer, the latter who proudly emphasizes his connection to the neighbourhood as both a business owner and resident. “We consider ourselves Yaletown before anything else,” Mercer explains, adding that they were easily motivated to do the merge by what he describes as “a massive sense of revival in Yaletown recently.”

Since cocktail culture has changed over the years, so will what’s on the bar menu at Brix & Mortar. Their new drinks program, promises Hannay and Mercer, will be whimsical, fun, and approachable, as well as available on both floors of Brix & Mortar.

Additionally, the restaurant will continue to offer their renown wine program (in fact the merging of the spaces has given them improved storage for their bottles), and the food menu remains under the direction of head chef Chris Bisaro, who has been with the restaurant for a decade.

Brix & Mortar’s new menu will reflect an expansion of options for the dining experience; those who seek a more leisurely three-course fine dining meal will still find what they’re looking for, while those who want to do a more casual share-plates meal will now also find a niche here. Bisaro will showcase fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients on a cohesive menu in the contemporary Pacific Northwest style, where his Italian heritage, French training, and affinity for Pacific Rim flavours find a comfortable home.

Home is a key tenet for Hannay and Mercer, who hope that to many this reinvigorated Brix & Mortar will offer customers a comfortable place to get away from the everyday grind. “We want people, most of all, to feel this is a home they can escape to,” says Mercer.

“We’re one restaurant,” emphasizes Hannay, “but with two doors.”

Brix & Mortar officially relaunches Friday, October 9.

Brix & Mortar

Address: 1138 Homer Street and 1137 Hamilton Street
Phone: 604-915-9463
Website: brixandmortar.ca

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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