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Local pubs share pleasure, purpose of Christmas serving tradition

Two local pubs share their reasons for keeping the doors open on Dec. 25

Although there’s no place like home for the holidays, every year select restaurants and hospitality venues go out of their way to replicate the Christmas spirit by opening their doors on Dec. 25.

There are several Greater Victoria restaurants accepting patrons on Christmas Day, for reasons ranging from personal to professional or spiritual. Black Press Media spoke with the proprietors of two – downtown’s Bartholomew’s Public House, and Oak Bay’s The Snug Pub – about their reasons and hopes this holiday season.

It’s a matter of tradition for both Bart’s and The Snug.

Bartholomew’s pulls theirs from their U.K. and Irish tradition, said director of food and beverage Morgan Watson. “Back there, a lot of the local pubs would open on Christmas Day for their regulars or the local community,” he said. “It’s something that’s been done historically here in Bartholomew’s for years, so we’re going to carry on that tradition.”

In the four years that Watson and his wife managed the pub, he said the Christmas tradition was only interrupted in 2020 by pandemic restrictions and the corresponding drop in clientele at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel and Suites, which stands above Bart’s.

READ ALSO: 12 days, 12 ways to celebrate Christmas around the Capital

Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s Snug Pub found its tradition locally following its establishment in 1926.

“Our hotel – not just our current standing building, but the brand – has been on our property for 95 years,” said marketing and public relations manager Anneke Feuermann. “We’re open every single day of the year … so we love being open on Christmas Day and being able to deliver a beautiful Christmas experience.”

The hotel’s grand fireplace, just outside its pub, is a popular spot for holiday photos, Feurermann said. Its heritage is as old as the hotel brand itself, with its bricks having been preserved since the construction of the original. “It’s definitely a bit of a tradition for guests and locals alike to come to our property on that day,” she said.

The Christmas rush for both hotels also plays a role in their pub’s decision to serve guests and the public alike. Watson said he expects as many seats to be as filled as any other Saturday on the 25th. Reservations are almost completely filled for the evening. “But it’s not just about business. It’s about giving something back to the local residents, to enjoy a bit of public festivities as well as a traditional Christmas meal,” he said.

Reservations for The Snug Pub’s Christmas dinner are completely booked, Feurermann said. There are, however, waitlist spots still available.

Patrons with reservations or those looking to dine out are encouraged to check with restaurants ahead of time, given potentially changing public health orders.

READ ALSO: ‘Like a rolling Christmas tree’: Cyclists light up downtown Victoria Saturday


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