October has brought change to two Surrey-area bars that stage live music.
South Surrey’s Sawbucks Pub has been sold, and Newton’s White Hart Pub has closed its doors.
The Co-op retail company bought Sawbucks, which Rod Egerton has owned and operated for close to a dozen years, on 152 Street at 16 Avenue.
Egerton says he’ll retire at the end of October, when the new owner takes over, and planned to celebrate his 60th birthday last Saturday night (Oct. 8).
“I’ve been doing this for 45 years, since I was 15,” Egerton said on Oct. 4.
“Just making good friends and meeting people, that’s been the best part of this.”
Egerton said Co-op is keeping it “status quo” at Sawbucks, “with all the same staff and the same name, everything.”
“They do have a couple other pubs, and I think 26 liquor stores and something like 50 gas stations now, after they bought 25 Husky stations. They have some grocery stores, feed barns, all that.”
Also known as Otter Co-op, established 100 years ago, the company operates Angry Otter Tap & Forno in North Vancouver and also The Highwayman in Abbotsford, in addition to Angry Otter liquor stores in several B.C. cities.
Otter Co-op purchased 18 Liquor Barn and Liquor Depot stores at the start of 2021, according to the company’s annual report.
CEO Jack Nicholson says Otter Co-op had a “very successful year” in sales during 2021, ending the year at a record $375 million. “This is $129 million above our previous year, with significant growth in our liquor division contributing to a large part of the growth,” he writes in the annual report.
“2021 was our third full year in the liquor business, and we achieved sales of $92.8 million,” Nicholson added. “This is an increase of over $77 million that came as a result of our growing brand and the acquisition of twenty new sites in 2021.”
Meantime, on Facebook the Hart family announced the closure of their White Hart Public House on Oct. 3, with Oct. 31 noted as the final day of business.
However, last week the Newton-area pub closed earlier than planned, and a bailiff’s notice posted on the property suggests rent of more than $25,000 is due on the leased space.
Formerly known as the Hook & Ladder Pub, the White Hart has been a very active stage for live music under Hart family ownership since February 2018. Early this year the Harts took over the operation of a Gastown bar in Vancouver and renovated it to become The Hart.
“We will cherish the connections we made and how we started as a tiny pub on King George (Boulevard) that grew into something really incredible,” White Hart operators posted to Facebook, on a page that has since been taken down.
“The success of the business resulted in an opening of a second restaurant and gave a cool fun scene in a new downtown setting. The Hart is going to be there to stay and you can find our staff from Surrey at the Gastown location in the near future.
“Thank you everyone for all the fun nights of endless entertainment. That being said, it’s now time to say goodbye to our beloved pub. Thank you everyone who has worked here over the years, all the bands that played here & the customers who supported this place.”