DIEPPE – This summer, the city of Dieppe has blocked the section of Gauvin Rd. in front of Place 1604, allowing families to enjoy the weather with games, while the adults can grab a drink at container bar Le Barbu.
“The idea is to kind of bring the whole community together and give a place for people to come and chime in and have conversations, talk and basically be outside,” said Jean Michel Theriault, one of its owners.
“We kind of looked at it and thought, it would be great if there’s a place for adults to spend some time as well while the kids are playing.”
Le Barbu, co-owned by Theriault’s wife Tania, and their friends Andre and Nathalie Cormier Frenette, will serve beer from Dieppe’s four craft breweries (Cavok, Chockpish, O’Creek and Flying Boats) all summer.
It also serves kombucha from Kissing Rocks, the Scow cider from the Belliveau Orchard and a spritz wine. Craft beer from Moncton, Fredericton, Bathurst and other parts of the province will be served on rotation.
The bar has two containers – one for ordering, and another that includes pinball machines, a dome hockey machine and old-school arcade games provided through collaboration with SpinIt Records in Moncton.
While Le Barbu doesn’t serve food, snacks like peanuts and chips are available, and customers can bring their food from other restaurants nearby. Patrons can sit at the patio in front of the bar, which uses recycled wooden pallets for furniture.
“We carry the menu for Cafe Archibald, we carry the menu for Wingate and the Dieppe market is also collaborating with us, bringing the food trucks close by,” Jean Michel said. “We want to make sure we support as many local entities as possible.”
The Theriaults and Frenettes were inspired by the open plazas of Europe from their travels. They had wanted to open a bar with a patio in downtown Dieppe, but never went ahead due to high rental costs, among other things. When Dieppe’s downtown vitalization project ConneXion Zone came up, they took the opportunity to test the idea.
“[In Europe] there’s always just small bars where you can sit and watch people and kind of get a feel or vibe of the downtown or the city. And Dieppe just doesn’t have that,” Jean Michel said. “So with the concept of the Connexion Zone, it kind of makes sense to have a small bar. It could have been a cafe but there’s a lot of that out there.”
ConneXion Zone is a pop-up summer infrastructure at Place 1604 that also makes a section of Gauvin Rd. a pedestrian- and bike-only area. The project connects the Dieppe Market and Place 1604, two of its key downtown features, using picnic tables, chairs and shady spots, giant games, and other entertainment. This is the first time the city is undertaking the project.
The city offers entertainment for residents from morning to evening every day for two months, including outdoor cinema on Thursdays and live music shows on Wednesdays in partnership with the market, its Arts and Culture Centre and its public library. It hopes to foster exchanges between community members of all ages.
“We try to involve everyone in the community and residents and also vendors and businesses that are around Place 1604. We want the buy-in of everyone so it can come back next year,” said Catherine Clusiau, Communications and Public Relations Officer for the city of Dieppe. “It’s great that [Le Barbu] decided to be a part of the ConneXion Zone. We think that it’s a great business and it’s also a business that promotes local brewers, so that’s a great thing.”
The bar will only open until September 2, when the two-month ConneXion Zone ends. Le Barbu’s owners had signed a merchant agreement with the city to run the business throughout the project’s duration on city land. Jean Michel said containers are being used because they can easily be moved at the end of the project, and it costs less.
“When the city said they were doing this, we kind of jumped at the chance to say that, ‘hey, this is a great time for us to try to get this off the ground running at a minimal cost,’ compared to investing into a lease and have employees and building something inside a building,” he said. “And it’s just a cool concept. You’re recycling a sea container or cargo container and using it for another purpose.”
With the response from the first week being positive for both Le Barbu and ConneXion Zone, Jean Michel and Clusiau are hoping to see a return in the coming years.
“It’s kind of a project for the summer now, but who knows what it can turn into,” Jean Michel said of his bar. “Hopefully, if the project keeps going on, we can come back next year as well.”
Le Barbu is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. The owners are still looking for the best opening times for Fridays, but they plan to open earlier than 5 p.m.