English pub inspired by D-Day vet

The Oxley strives to be as authentically English as its namesake Frank Oxley

The new Yorkville-based British pub The Oxley Public House takes its name from an Englishman named Frank Oxley, a D-Day veteran who regaled co-owner and chef Andrew Carter with stories while frequenting his first pub.

“We were running The Queen and Beaver and he just came to the kitchen and started talking to me and we had a great conversation about English history, about the pub,” Carter says. “He was a very engaging guy and through that conversation he sent me a letter about some books to read about English history, on Churchill and some of the real foundational people of England.”

When the time came to open their second location, which is also co-owned by Jamieson Kerr, The Oxley was thrown into the mix and people liked it even before they heard the story behind it, he says.

“He just summed up what England means to me, the real character of England and that’s what we’re trying to enhance here,” Carter says. “It was joyful but there was a substance to it and his name and his character fit into what we are trying to emulate.”

The Oxley, which is located on Yorkville at Hazelton Ave., serves up traditional and contemporary English fare alongside wine and beer.
“You go to Little Italy or Portugal and you see everybody has their cultural foods and this is our food if you’d like and we’ve set it in English pub,” he says. “It doesn’t necessarily have be rooted in the food but it’s rooted in the people who use the pub.”

“The thing I like about this area is there’s a great community here and I think that’s really important,” Kerr adds. “It’s a very small area, there’s a really incredible history here so we’re now going to get involved in the community and try and hopefully be a very good asset to the neighbourhood.”

Since they didn’t want to be located in a highrise or office building and preferred an authentic old house, the pair searched for nearly a year and a half to find the right location, Kerr says.

“We thought this would be great, this would really offset the atmosphere that we’re trying to portray here,” he says, adding designer Elisa Sauvé transformed the interior space. “A pub is for the masses really and I just love the relaxed atmosphere and we just decided to bring the pub concept up a notch in Toronto.”

Although they already had experience and learned through launching The Queen and Beaver three years ago, they admit there was still some trepidation.

“There’s a mixture of complete fear and excitement,” Carter says. “It’s exciting because the idea has come to fruition but then the fear, it’s a new business, like any entrepreneur will tell you, you never know until it’s done.”

About this article:

By: Ann Ruppenstein
Posted: Aug 21 2012 6:33 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto