Has it really been almost 2 years since our last blog post ?!
I think it’s safe to say, the Bongopix jam is officially back !
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ashley, and I am a Bongopix guest turned employee and new resident of this wild world of Whitney, Ontario.
It feels fitting to begin my first Bongopix blog post with the picture below.
It was the end of March, 2021, and I had come up to Whitney for the weekend to escape the city and boil maple sap with my friends.
While sitting around the fire that day, Bongo and Andrea approached me with an offer I just couldn’t refuse. Plans were in motion, following the pandemic, to finally open a bar in Whitney.
The Bongopix Tavern had its first team meeting around the maple smoke of a spring campfire.
The year to follow seems like a whirlwind of panini recipes, trips to Homesense in search of charcuterie boards, milk frothing lessons, furniture hunting, craft beer and latte tasting, and of course many, many trips between Niagara and Whitney for me.
Having no serving experience I felt like I had a lot to learn! I’d never designed a menu, served beer or crafted a cozy latte before, but I was definitely up for a new challenge and a totally different work environment.
We officially opened the Tavern on Canada Day 2022 ! It was a BUSY and very exciting first night. The rest of our summer was a blur of campfire sing-a-longs, stacking cases of Bud Light, and pumping out countless mortadella paninis.
The buzz of the Tavern kept us busy all fall as tourists and locals alike came to enjoy the gorgrous maple tree coulour show ! We hosted a few private events, celebrated birthday parties and the campfire jam slowly made its way inside as the cooler days and snow showed up.
We closed up shop for the months of November and December. Just as we were set to re-open for what we thought would be an epic New Years Eve party we were faced with a devasting flood. On December 26th, a plumbing connection malfunctioned in one of the accommodation rooms above the Tavern. The word catastrophe feels appropriate when recollecting images in my mind of the paint from the Galeairy Lake map on the Tavern ceiling ballooning with pockets of water.
The days that followed were heartbreaking as we emptied out the entire building, salvaged what we could and tried to digest the situation at hand.
In our darkest moment, and at a time when we all had feelings of giving up, our tiny little town of Whitney, along with friends and family from around the world, all came together. Funds were raised by kind donations, locals were at the door offering helping hands along the way, and little by little a plan of action came to life.
Bongo and Andrea spent all of January and February working all day, every day, renovating bathrooms, laying new flooring, filling out insurance claims, and doing everything necessary to get the Tavern back on its feet.
On February 17th, 2023, the doors re-opened and we celebrated the night surrounded by what felt like the whole town of Whitney! Exactly a month later, the Tavern was alive with green beers and Irish tunes as we hosted our first St. Patricks Day party. The Tavern was back !
Days go by now that I barely remember walking in to the waterfalls from the ceiling. Orange paint once again fills the room where guitars hang and the smell of freshly ground coffee beans fill the air. It’s been a wild year to say the least. I’m thankful every day for the incredible team I work with and the passion that continues to fill every goal we set.
The off season months in South Algonquin were my favourite so far. Of course I also enjoy a mid July, jam packed patio night with campfire smoke and countless runs restocking the beer fridge. However, the winter and early spring nights, where locals show up after their shift to watch the hockey game or just enjoy a hot bowl of chili have really made this Tavern feel like home.
I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when we started this adventure but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Whitney community and I’m looking forward to our second summer of Tavern fun !