Irish House: Beta Testing a Bar for Vancouver 2010 Games
After work yesterday, I stopped at the corner of Seymour and Nelson to notice that the parking lot next to the Penthouse strip club was no longer a parking lot, but a massive white tent-like structure. This is the new location for Irish House, one of the hospitality centers for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. I ducked inside to see a hive of activity: workers assembling furniture, hanging flags, and mounting the ubiquitous flat-screens that are apparently required by law in all Vancouver bars.
I asked what sorts of events they had planned for the games, and a blonde Irish woman fixed me with steely eyes and replied, "We're going to party".
I then spoke with event director Tania Richards, who invited me to the soft-launch that evening. "Soft launch"... that's basically beta testing for a bar.
Since Beta testing is part of what I do for a living, I thought I'd share some of my ruthlessness with the good people of Irish House and so, after dinner, I brought a friend along, dropped Tania's name at the door and in we went, along with a random woman who happened to be standing next to us wondering how to get into the apparently-exclusive event. That's how I roll: if you blag your way into a place, share your good fortune.
The place was fairly crowded, considering that the door staff weren't sure whom they should be letting in. The party was already starting... So here we go:
Beta Testing Results for Irish House:
- Drinks List: PASS (Guinness. As long as they have this, they're golden)
- Entertainment: PASS (Live bands, a Wii hooked up to a projector)
- Bars: PASS: (Several bars set up so that crowds won't bump into each other)
- Entry: FAIL (Three identical doors, door staff unsure who is supposed to get in- it's open to the public, by the way)
- Drink ordering: MARGINAL (Licensing requires tickets instead of cash-for drinks, and they need to streamline the ticket-purchasing process)
- VIP Access: FAIL: (I encountered no extra check for VIP access once you got in; was told I had to check in my laptop bag, but didn't, and was never challenged about it- fine with me, actually-maybe that's a feature and not a bug)
- Vibe: PASS (This will be a fun place to hang out- doesn't feel "Irish"-whatever that means- but you know you're in a beer tent at a major sporting event)
- Staff: PASS (Everyone was really friendly, and didn't seem stressed by the chaos- the place had literally been open for 20 minutes when we stopped by)
- Media: MARGINAL (I'd lose the flat-screens, since the projectors are visible to anyone in the building)
- Toilets: MARGINAL (Clean, but not clearly signposted- someone's job was to tell us that there were more than two)
I'm certain that the ticket-ordering process will get sorted: they just need an extra staffer and a clear set of two queues. Also, the door policy is just a matter of telling the staff that the building is open to anyone of legal drinking age. When this place opens for real on February 11, there'll be a $20 cover charge- I loathe cover charges. This was not in effect last night, and also may not be in effect during any pre-opening events.
In a city suddenly full of blue fences, this is one party that we're all invited to.
Considering how new everything was, I'd consider Irish House' soft launch a success. Irish House is here to party, and will accomplish its mission.
(Note: I am not connected to Irish House in any way- it just seemed like a golden opportunity to drink Guinness under the auspices of writing a story)