Jul. 25, 2012 - Issue #875: Shout Out Out Out Out
New Kid On The Block
The rustic Mercer Tavern inhabits iconic warehouse
The iconic Mercer Warehouse on the 104th Street Promenade is a starting a new chapter, with several new businesses inhabiting the historic space.
One of the new kids on the block is the Mercer Tavern, a rustic, inviting hangout that's made full use of the building's original industrial esthetic, which is just over 100 years old.
Devin Pope of Rosehill Property has taken on the Mercer as his first major project in his family's business and is one of four partners in the Mercer Tavern along with Jeff Ruptash, Jon Fraser and Terence Satdeo. He says the revitalization process for the tavern has spanned over approximately six months. The construction team, which included the partners getting in on the dirty job, sanded all the floors, redid the plumbing, the roof and the entire kitchen, among a lengthy list of other jobs.
"Now that you bring it up, I realize six months isn't actually that bad," Pope says with a laugh, later adding that the goal of the building as a whole is to bring an entrepreneurial hub to the area that can act as a one-stop-shop for customers.
"[The partners] are every bit a part of what's going into it and it means a lot to them, and I think that will really show," adds Gillian Hodgson, the tavern's PR and marketing coordinator, of the partners' active involvement in the project.
Approximately a year and a half ago, Pope and his father Kelly began investigating different avenues for filling the Mercer. Pope teamed up with long-time friend Ruptash to bring the tavern to life and add something unique to Edmonton's food scene with the raw, historical space.
"With 104th Street, the energy, the spirit here is palpable," notes Hodgson. "It's undeniable that this is the up-and-coming area on the city, and to be a part of that metamorphosis is exciting and it is a privilege as well."
In addition to being able to experience one of the city's most historic buildings—which holds numerous mysteries that Pope believes adds to its intrigue, including tales of a black-robed ghost in the basement—patrons can enjoy a menu that offers a gourmet spin on classic comfort food. Executive chef Daniel Gibbons, formerly sous chef at Joey's on Jasper, is whipping up a variety of meaty, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options to satisfy a wide variety of tastes and diets.
One of the kitchen's gluten-free creations includes a mouth-watering spaghetti squash dish topped with red pepper coulis, Italian herb marinated tofu and a basil oil drizzle. Other menu offerings include bison short ribs, corn fritters and some meatless options.
Of course, what would a good tavern be without extensive beverage offerings? The Mercer Taven is forgoing tastes-like-juice concoctions for classic, crafted cocktails like the mint julip and amaretto sour. A highlight in particular is the Tavern Iced Tea, which combines mango sencha tea, whisky, ginger and bitters. Hodgson says bar manager Jordan Wassen is passionate about cocktails and allows the quality of the spirits to come through, rather than masking them.
For beer drinkers, Pope notes there are 12 varieties on tap and 30 more in bottles ranging from local craft beers to imported brands.
The building's original owner, JB Mercer gets a nod with a private room boasting his namesake. The room can be booked for a variety of functions and despite staying true to its vintage charm, including the original safe, it has some modern touches like an iPod dock and AV hook ups.
"We want to really create the culture in that room," Pope says. "JB Mercer was an entrepreneur and salesman, and we kind of wanted to designate a room specifically to him ... we wanted to bring back the history in that space."
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