By Jeff Labine
Published: June 1, 2016
Two years ago, Kerry Berlinquette knew she would eventually have to shut down the bar and restaurant she was opening.
But that didn’t stop her.
By the end of August, the Breakwater Taphouse, located on Thunder Bay’s waterfront, will be closing its doors for good. The popular spot for craft beer is leasing the second floor of the old CN Rail station from Re Solve Group. Berlinquette told The Chronicle-Journal on Monday that she knew going into the deal that they would eventually have to close as the company has other plans for the building.
Berlinquette said she’s looking forward to seeing what Resolve Group does with the space.
“It’s not a surprise,” she said with a smile and beer in hand.
“I love an adventure. I loved this. This was fun and it was a great idea at the time. I’ve had the most amazing two years. I love coming to work. It’s awesome and I’ve made amazing friends. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m all about the experience.”
Having no experience in the bar industry, Berlinquette said she learned quickly that there was a lot of rules and regulations to be aware of. She said she wasn’t surprised by the success the Taphouse received because she believes anyone could be successful if they open up a store at the waterfront.
“You can’t go wrong with this location,” she said. “If you can’t make it in this location, you should do something else. This is the perfect spot.”
She also credited her staff for helping the Breakwater stand out.
Berlinquette has had a long history with beer in Thunder Bay. She has been involved with helping local breweries, been instrumental in helping with large events like BrewHa and has helped introduce many brew lovers to Northern Ontario craft beers. She said she never thought she would be the face of beer in Thunder Bay.
“I love beer,” she said. “I feel like I’m synonymous with beer now. I don’t want to lose that. I love the whole beer culture and that has been an amazing ride for me over the last six years. I feel like I have a really good understanding from a brewery, then a bar, but I don’t know what I can really do next.”
News of the Breakwater closing sparked a number of comments online urging Berlinquette to relocate somewhere else. That’s something Berlinquette said she won’t do.
“The only reason I am here is because of this,” she said pointing to the waterfront.
“I never wanted to open a bar. I never sat there as a young girl saying ‘I wish I could open a bar’. No but it’s been awesome. I’ve loved every minute of it. Short and sweet. Never had to clean up barf or break up a fight or had to kick anyone out. So for owning a bar, that’s pretty cool. The people who work here have worked here since the first day. The usual bar stuff, I haven’t had to deal with. I’ve been lucky.”
She added that she’s excited to see how the waterfront will be developed and urged for more family activities that all ages could enjoy.