What do Tequila Nightclub, Jamesons Irish Pub, Commonwealth Bar and Stage, and CRAFT Beer Market all have in common? One guy.
PJ l’Heureux has been opening bars and nightclubs in Calgary since he was 23. With one of his latest ventures, CRAFT Beer Market, branching out into the Vancouver and Edmonton markets, it seems like l’Heureux’s entrepreneurial spirit can’t be halted.
FREQ: How did you get into the business of opening bars and clubs in Calgary?
PJ: I was a DJ in the clubs as a young guy, before I even turned 18. After a while, I started promoting myself pretty heavily instead of just doing the DJ thing. I started doing concerts and things like that and when I realized I was making the nightclubs a lot of money, I opened my first place — Capital Nightclub — when I was 23.
FREQ: You’ve opened a number of extremely successful bars in Calgary, how do you keep them all straight?
PJ: For Commonwealth, I have great partners. The guys from Hi-Fi Club are very dialled into the nightclub business and we work extremely well together. We didn’t want to make a “heat of the moment” club; we wanted one that’s going to be timeless. We continue to work on the brand and make sure that the right messages are going out.
FREQ: Is there some kind of formula for a successful nightclub or restaurant?
PJ: I guess I try to stay ahead of trends. I do a lot of travelling and looking at what’s going on all over the place. Bringing original ideas into the Calgary market is what sets us apart from other establishments. It’s just being original and surrounding yourself with good people.
FREQ: CRAFT says that environmental sustainability and economic sustainability go hand in hand, what does that mean?
PJ: Everything that we’ve done at CRAFT is because we believe in it. We’re not following a trend; we’re leading a trend. Sustainability is costly and the consumers don’t always see it. We reclaimed the wood you see in the restaurant; we have energy efficient bulbs and toilets, a composting program on site and it even touches on our uniforms, Levi’s Water
FREQ: What’s the coolest thing you get to do as a club and restaurant owner?
PJ: There’s some great perks. Just this year a brew company hosted us at Red Bull’s Hangar-11 in Austria. But the biggest perk is meeting people and getting to know people in Calgary and other cities that are like-minded when it comes to great food and beer.