Working For the Weekend: With beer entrepreneurs Ezra Kish and Patryk Drozd

By David Cutting


VANCOUVER — A lot can happen in a year, you can open a new bar and have it be a huge success, you can get your own in-house lager, you can sign a lease on a new space, you can buy a pony, you can even find time for rest. Most of this is the case for Ezra Kish and Patryk Drozd, two hard-working entrepreneurs who are creating community spaces where people can come together to have a good time.

Having had life breathed into it by industry professionals and denizens over the last year, the Boxcar celebrated its one-year anniversary, a no-gimmicks good old drinking hole that neighbours the infamous Cobalt. The Boxcar touts its own in-house lager, Good Company. Owned in part by Drozd, Good Company Lager is a brilliant and refreshing addition to their already inspired community involvement. It’s as if the beer is a vehicle to bring together beer lovers and the patrons of their establishments.

We got these two busy gentlemen together, we talked about their establishments and even spilled some juicy details about what’s to come. Here we go:

BeatRoute: Happy one year anniversary to the Boxcar! What has the response to the space been in that year?

Ezra Kish: Thanks! I mean, apart from the usual liveliness of a bar atmosphere, the drama has been low in there. Everyone who comes in seems to enjoy it and relax.

Patryk Drozd: It’s just a bar, no gimmicks, no televisions, no food (although our neighbours Pizza Farina sure seem to do a lot of business in there). People have wanted that in Vancouver, especially on the East Side.

EK: It’s exactly like what we did with the Cobalt minus the live performances; it’s a community. There’s a difference between community and network. A network is like your Facebook page where you surround yourself with people who pump your tires and agree with you and you feel validated but you don’t really learn much. A community is like a baseball team or your neighbourhood where everyone who comes in comes from somewhere else and if you wanna sit next to them you have to be tolerant, and you might actually learn something if you stop playing games on your phone for half a second.

PD: It’s funny, we get almost the entire city’s music industry in there blowing off steam with one another. Sometimes I think the Boxcar is what stops all the promoters and talent and agents and label stooges from never speaking to one another again. It’s cool seeing that type of professional friendliness happen at our bar.

BR: Tell us about Good Company Lager, how did that come to be?

PD: Good Company (or a form of it) has been a idea of mine for a long time. Originally (six years ago) I was talking to a Nicaraguan brewery about brewing a Canadian cervasa and brand it under the Vancouver banner, Mexican lager holds one of the largest positions in the beer category.   Anyways, that fell through for so many reasons. Six years later, way more business experiences and the maturity of the average beer drinker moving into craft beers, the opportunity opened up for me that I could not ignore.

BR: How have your regulars responded to Good Company?

PD: GCL has been a smash hit, it debuted at BASSCOAST and The Cobalt. It’s been 30 days and I am already at government liquor stores and over 30 of my buddies’ establishments in Vancouver.

BR: Good Company is based in the Okanagan, correct?

PD: Currently CGL is being brewed in [ the Okanagan] until we can find the right location for us to set up in Vancouver, currently in talks with buying a local brewery and installing a canning line.

BR: What do you hope to see for the next year at Boxcar?

PD: A Good Company in every hand.

EK: Yeah that, I guess. Also, I love our niche music nights like Vibe Corridor and Fishing that seem to strike a nerve with music fans who might feel out of place at a 200+ capacity venue. I’d love to see that group of people still happy with our space and hopefully have some more regular nights like that.

BR: How has the Boxcar affected Cobalt?

EK: It’s certainly focused the Cobalt as a live space. Before, so many regulars would come down and try and sit with a beer but attempt to speak to one another over a punk show or a vivacious drag number. Now, there’s just an easy back and forth between both venues.

PD: The Cobalt is a total lightning rod for raucous live stuff: DJs, drag, music. Everyone already knows that. The Boxcar has been its own animal, but on top of that, it’s a place for people to shuffle off to for a minute to have a (somewhat) quieter drink.

BR: What inspired you to open Boxcar?

PD: Because it was an empty space between us and the next spot over.

EK: As most people who go to places like ours in the city knows, it’s nearly impossible to open a new bar. The Cobalt is over a hundred years old. The Boxcar is actually the space that was used as a horse and carriage pass-through back then.

PD: Yeah and my horse died a few years back and my carriage got termites, so I figured we should probably consider an update to the space.

BR: Any future plans for more spaces like Boxcar and the Cobalt?

EK: We just signed the lease on the former Electric Owl, right across the street from our two establishments and down the street from the East Side Flea which is run by myself and my better half, Morgan Ellis.

PD: We’re returning it to its former name: the American.

EK: Make the American great again.

PD: That’s the plan.

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