We love this series where we interview our lovely Union Friends. We are always blown away by the passion and incredible talent in the Vancouver wedding industry and we wanted to share these amazing people with you all. So grab yourself a coffee, take a break and enjoy!
Happy Monday, friends! We’re thrilled to introduce to you today Jennifer Hannay. Not only is Jenn the event coordinator at Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar, she is also the owner of the restaurant along with her husband and his business partner. We have a confession for you: it wasn’t until we sat down to do this interview with Jenn that we clued in that her and her husband Dave own Brix. Every dealing we have had with Jenn has been low key, down to earth and absolutely lovely. Of course, once we realized that Jenn is an owner of the restaurant it made perfect sense because every time we are at Brix we feel immediately welcomed by the charm of the space and of the staff. We love that Brix is a true reflection of its owners. Brix is one of our favourite wedding venues in Vancouver because of this and because their food is absolutely delicious. If you haven’t had the chance to eat there be sure and go.
Now onto our interview with Jenn who charmed us even more with her delightful answers.
How did you and Dave come to own Brix?
Brix was started by my husband, David, and his business partner, Patrick Mercer, 15 years ago. Dave worked in the hospitality industry while he was studying at UBC and it was during that time that he met Patrick – working at Boathouse Coal Harbour. After finishing his degree, Dave went on to spend 5 years managing with The Boathouse Group of Restaurants. After the 5 years, Dave determined he wanted to explore some other opportunities and started working with Liberty Wine Merchants – furthering his passion for and knowledge of wine. He also started working at Joe Fortes where Patrick had gone to work some years earlier. While Dave was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next, Pat suggested to Dave that the two of them should open a restaurant. They put together a business plan and started looking for a location. They went around to different spots and put in low-ball offers because that was all they had. There were a few places that they almost got but they all fell through in the end.
Dave & Pat lucked out with Brix in 1999. It used to be called Farago and was run by a husband and wife team. They were expecting a baby and found the restaurant was more than they could handle at the time so they wanted to get out relatively quickly. Dave & Pat snapped it up, and we’ve been plugging along since then. It’s been a slow build, which has been wonderful for us.
I met Dave about a year after Brix opened. My parents went to the restaurant first to celebrate their anniversary. They had a great time and loved it, so my mom took me a few weeks later for dinner. I loved it too and ended up going again for my birthday. That night Dave gave me a tour of the kitchen and kissed me in the freight elevator. We’ve been together ever since.
When Dave & Pat first opened the restaurant they had no plan to do weddings. On my first night there with my mom, I mentioned to her that Brix would be a great place to get married. Although the courtyard has changed a lot since then, it has always had an old world charm that naturally lends itself to weddings. Our wedding in 2002 was one of the first weddings at Brix. Being in the wedding industry has happened organically for us, which has been wonderful.
Why weddings? What do you love about them?
I love the celebration. We are increasingly busy in the world and it is nice to bring the people that matter the most together to celebrate the next stage in a couple’s life.
For me, a wedding is not only about the commitment that the couple makes to one another, but also about the commitment friends and family make to the couple – to help support them in their journey. Life can be hard and we can sometimes get irritated by our partners. We all benefit from family and friends that support us in remembering the reasons that we chose our spouse!
I hope that in the process of planning a wedding that I’m able to remind our couples what the whole goal of the wedding is about. It is about celebration. It is about love. It’s about not taking ourselves too seriously. It is about forgiveness. It is about recognizing that a wedding is also about the parents & guests and friends – a wedding can have a great impact on so many people.
What is one of your most memorable experiences at Brix?
Honestly, each wedding is special and unique, so it is hard to choose just one experience. We’re lucky in that we get to work with really lovely people. Since I’ve been doing the weddings at Brix for the last 7 years there really hasn’t been a wedding where the next day a couple hasn’t come back being overall really thrilled.
I do love it when our staff enjoy a wedding so much that they are more in love with love afterwards.
What is your favourite part of a wedding?
When we pour the bubbles during the signing and pass it around. The ceremony is done and there is pure joy in the air. It is the pinnacle of happiness and relief and I love that moment.
What is your best piece of advice for an engaged couple?
Don’t sweat the small stuff and have a sense of humour. I never mind my clients emailing me a million times before the day and being stressed then. At the end of the day I tell my couples that in the week before the wedding to have a delete button installed beside them. If something isn’t done, they can just hit it. The world is not going to crash. Get good sleep, have a date with your future spouse and on the wedding day just enjoy yourself.
What is the one thing about you that not many people may know?
Although I’m really open in person (total open book), I am not comfortable with an online presence – I like my privacy – I’m not even on facebook.
What is your most prized possession?
To be honest, I’m not really that tied to possessions. I don’t care about jewelry. I’m relatively pragmatic. Stuff doesn’t matter to me, relationships do.
What was the best decision you ever made?
Marrying my husband, absolutely. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not 100% grateful. When it comes to weddings I really do wish for our couples that they feel as lucky as I do to have the relationship I have with Dave. We’re best friends and we’re really good partners in life. I’m grateful for that, because it gives me so much strength to leap and to explore and to fail and to laugh about it. To me, that is what marriage is all about. It’s not about having someone on your arm, it is about having a partner in life.
If you could learn one random skill, what would it be?
There are so many things! I would love to learn another language. My children are in French immersion and I’d like to be able to speak French with them. I would love to one day take a trip to France with my family with us all immersed and speaking the language.
I would also love to have plumbing skills. Plumbers are so expensive and it would be a great skill to have.
What is inspiring you lately?
People inspire me. I went to the Unique Lives and Experiences Series and heard Laura Ling speak. She is a journalist who was covering a story in China about the trafficking of women from North Korea. She was captured by the North Koreans and was sentenced to 12 years of hard labour. Bill Clinton negotiated her release. Hearing her tell her story was fascinating.
If you could trade places with another person for a week, who would it be?
It would be so fun to trade places with Anthony Bourdain for a week. The experiences he gets to go on and the people he gets to meet and the food he gets to eat are wonderful. It would be really interesting.
Thank you so much, Jenn, for taking part in our series. We had a great time talking with you about weddings and marriage. Your answer about the best decision you ever made warmed our hearts. We’re lucky in that we feel the same way about our relationship too.