Photo: Sonja Klotz
Amid all the new artisan cafes and breweries that have been popping up all over Abbotsford, there is yet another that has joined the hipster trend in the downtown core.
Located on Essendene Avenue in what used to be the Agave bar is a new craft beer lounge called The Spotted Owl, which officially opened its doors on March 4. As you walk in, you will most likely be greeted by Richard Murphy, the bar’s general manager, and his team.
Murphy, a fan of the legal drama Suits, has the Harvey Spector hair, charm, and adrenaline-driven hobbies, such as off-road mudding. He also enjoys the ballet and possesses the loyalty and customer-care focus of Spector’s frenemy Louis Litt. This combination makes for a welcoming nature that extends to The Spotted Owl as a whole.
The lounge, named for an indigenous species of owl found here in the Fraser Valley, includes plans to have 10 taps of craft beers from local breweries alongside the bar’s own “Hoot Lager,” thus cementing The Owl’s relation to the surrounding community.
When asked about how this bar’s atmosphere would compare with some of Abbotsford’s latest artisan businesses, such as Field House Brewing, Oldhand, and Cafe Amarti, Murphy had a ready answer.
“With us, we’re more of that ‘premium dive bar’ atmosphere, where yeah, it’s a nice looking space, but we’re not going to try and blow you out of the water with the aesthetics,” he says. “We’re trying to blow you out of the water with our selection and environment.”
“That’s why it was kind of a slow start,” Murphy adds, “and that is why they brought me on board, to make the changes in the space to create that comfort and that vibe that the craft beer lounge really requires.”
That vibe includes board games, free air hockey, and local art on the walls that changes each month with a new local artist.
“Rather than trying to blow you out of the water with, ‘Hey, look how nice this place looks,’ [instead we’re aiming for] ‘How much fun is this place to go to? How much entertainment can we have as group?’” Murphy says.
Murphy’s ideas for entertainment include a weekly Cards Against Humanity night, open mic night, and Tuesday night karaoke.
This extends to the type of musical and nightlife entertainment this specific location has previously hosted in past years — The Spotted Owl is proudly welcoming back Harma White, one of the local scene’s heavyweights, to play this Wednesday night, June 8. According to Murphy, prior to the ownership turnover of the space, Harma White had consistently played for over two years at this location every Wednesday night.
Perhaps the artisan-hipster scene may not be for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a lovely pint of the Fraser Valley’s craft beer after a hard day of studying.