LB's Pub up for sale
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am
LB’s Pub in Akinsdale is known to be off the beaten track for bars in the region. But it’s the live music that makes the place.
Darrell Barr plays Tuesday nights, and The New Big Time with Rocko Vaugeois comes out every Thursday. They’re both good reasons for people in the region to spend considerable time at this enduring St. Albert bar, says owner Linda Beier.
Tucked into a strip mall on Akins Drive – a 7-Eleven and music shop on either side and a large car wash across the parking lot – Beier says LB’s is now up for sale.
At 65, the long-standing pub owner decided to retire and make room for someone younger, she says.
“I keep threatening every year that I’m going to do it but this year I actually did it,” she says. “I don’t know if it will sell. I don’t know what the market is like.”
From Greek to Western
She certainly won’t just give it away, she says.
Beier has been bound to her business for many years, first raising it out of debt, and then building it up to one of St. Albert’s most popular live music spots.
When she first took over in 1987, LB’s was still a Greek restaurant, she says.
Athens on Akins, as she called it then, was a restaurant with a small bar and a large dining room. But when her Greek employee left, taking much of his clientele with him, Beier decided to try something new, she says.
“After all the other restaurants started coming in, then you had to have something you had to specialize in and I really didn’t know how to cook Greek stuff,” she says. “So I decided to take the dining room out and make it more Western cuisine.”
Today, LB’s Pub may lack the cozy loveseats that once surrounded the small bar (then by the door), and the closest to foreign cuisine is the pizza place down the road. But it still serves any tavern’s ancient function as a community gathering place.
The walls that once separated bar and dining room are long gone, replaced with a wide open space filled with dark wooden chairs and tables. There’s a dance floor and a stage that can now accommodate a band, rather than just one, lone musician.
They play here every Tuesday and Thursday, Beier says, and live bands perform on the weekends.
Many of the musicians have been with her since the start, she adds, much like her staff who, she says, are hard-to-find, hard workers whom she depends on. Some have worked with her for eight years and longer.
“And it’s hard to find someone who had any experience in this business now … nobody wants to work the medium jobs.”
Running a tight ship
That being said, Beier runs a tight ship.
She checks her inventory every morning and prides herself on keeping a firm control over her stock . Every drink and dinner is recorded, whether it was served, or spilled, or given to her staff, she says.
She would never trust anyone else to run the business unless they are related to her, she says. That only opens the door to shady business, she says, speaking of past experiences with theft in the pub.
Today, her husband works as her manager and her son runs the bar.
“I feel that is part of making the business what it is today. If you don’t stay on top of things like that it can get away from you,” she says. “When I started in the business I trusted everybody. But now I don’t trust anybody until they earn my trust.”
That’s not to say that LB’s Pub hasn’t seen rough times, she says. When the recession hit in the past, or temperatures dropped low for a long time, people came out less often. She considered closing the doors before, but they always turned the business around, she says.
Now she hopes someone young will buy LB’s from her. In this business, she says, you need new ideas all the time: for liquors, and menus, and entertainment. A younger person could stay on top of things, if they have the mind to stick around, she says.
Beier is no stranger to determination. If it doesn’t sell, she’d rather keep the pub and run it another 10 years, she says. She put too much work into it to just give it away, she says.
“When I started, I heard a rumour that they had bets out that I wasn’t going to last a year, so I didn’t care,” she laughs. “I was going to go for two years if I had to, sink or swim.”