Uptown bar grabs niche market

Those with a penchant for espresso, local cuisine and whiskey should be aware of the opening of Death Valley’s Little Brother (DVLB) in the heart of Uptown Waterloo on Dec. 8. Owned and operated by Joel and Katherine Gingrich, Joel claims that DVLB was inspired by a motorcycle trip through Death Valley in California, which resulted in a personal career change.

Boasting a menu offering regional coffee and cuisine — including scones, muffins, lemon tarts and crème brûlée — DVLB attempts to offer patrons a homegrown feel set apart from its corporate counterparts. This image is embodied by the shop’s mascot, the mythical jackalope.

“The only way to catch a jackalope,” said Joel, “Is to put out a flask of whiskey at night. It ties into the idea that we’re independent and we’re trying to do things a little differently than other cafés in the area.”

Despite the jackalope being notoriously vicious, Joel assures the local community that there is nothing to worry about. Also included in the café’s purview is a focus on whiskey; in particular, single-malt and bourbon. For ease of selection, DVLB offers a “wall of whiskey,” as well as a flow chart, which displays various whiskies ranging from delicate to smoky, light to rich. “The reason we tied in the whiskey is because I believe the experience of whiskey is similar to the experience of coffee. You’re meant to sit and enjoy it with people, with good company and with a good environment. Very relaxed, low key,” said Joel.

For the past three Friday nights, DVLB has offered live music; over the next few weeks, the café is working towards exhibiting art to add to what Joel calls the café’s ‘indie’ feel.

“We want to get people excited about art again. I think a lot of people can be intimidated by art, to go to an actual art gallery is intimidating, so this is more accessible.”

DVLB can be found across from Failte Irish Pub and the Fox and the Fiddle.

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