“When you announce your retirement and people start to say they don’t think it’s a good idea,” said LSS music teacher Rod Alsop, “then you know you’ve done a good job.”
Alsop was commenting that if folks “saw your retirement notice, and were glad, … then did you do your job?” Alsop said “no, then the job was not done.”
Having been a teacher for over 25 years, the guru of a large number of musical theatre performances, Alsop has decided to hang up his baton and turn his attentions to beer taps. Alsop, along with partners, Jonny Ludtke, Alfred Elvis and Geoff Alsop, is now in the beer making business. That business is now a booming little craft brewery called Bayview Brewing and it’s located right where Bayview Avenue intersects with Dogwood Drive in Ladysmith.
This idea of venturing out had been in the back of Alsop’s mind for quite a while. In 2015 he bought First Avenue Barbers, who were leasing the building on the side of Alsop’s house.
“I believe I’ve been cutting hair over half my life,” said Alsop. “When I was 20 I joined the reserves while attending UBC. It was the 15th Field Artillery, and you know we all had to have short hair, so I cut my own.
“Others wanted their hair cut too, so it became a bit of a sideline and I still do some to this day.”
One evening, in 2017, the Alsops went for dinner with a few friends and Ludtke was cooking. His specialty is prime rib and it blew us away. A while later, Alsop and his wife went for dinner in Victoria at the Drake Eatery and Craft Beer Parlour. That experience stuck and a short time later Alsop called his friend Jonny Ludtke and said “we’re going for a drive.”
Ludtke, who was just having his morning coffee and still in his pajamas, agreed and they spent the next couple of hours parked in front of the Travellers Hotel formulating ideas on how it could be turned around and into a boutique hotel with an “eatery” and craft brewery. Ludtke, had been ‘practicing’ with some home brewing of his own so the visions started to roll.
Unfortunately, things didn’t happen as planned, but the vision was still there when Alsop realized that he already had a place that could accommodate their vision. The Alsops own the old Ryan house on the corner of First Ave. and Dogwood Dr. It had an annex added to it which at one time was a doctors’ offices and then it was taken over by Heritage Wine Works.
When Alsop’s family bought the property, First Avenue Barbers were in the main annex. This was ideal and with some planning the “brewing group” worked out how the barber shop could still remain, just moved over, and the bigger area would be turned into a local craft brewery and restaurant which would have a capacity of seating 50 guests (including the added patio).
When COVID first hit it was actually a bit of a bonus for Alsop, as he was now teaching from home and had a bit more time to oversee, or more in fact, doing the renos on the building.
“We recycled as much as we could in the construction,” Also said. “The table tops are recycled wood and even the chairs, inside, are recycled. We bought forty old chairs, all at the same, from the BC government surplus online auction site. We bid fifty cents for the 40 chairs. That with the minimum bid and it was the only bid, so we drove to Victoria to pick them up.
“One of the features we are very proud of is the polished concrete counter tops. Again, we wanted unique and Ian Wyndlow, from Liquid Stone Studios created these amazing concrete countertops and even had our logo stamped in the centre of it. It is quite a feature.”
The staff at Bayview Brewing are mostly family as well there are former and current students working there. “That made the interview process easier,” Alsop joked, “but we do know the folks that applied and they know us, so it makes it more family than boss and employee.
“Jonny had taught at Ladysmith Secondary for eleven years and I had been there for seventeen years, so you get to know a lot of people and what they’re like. They also get to know you, or have heard about you and it makes kinda bond thing,” was what Alsop said about how the staff were picked.
Bayview Brewing is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m Sunday to Thursday and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“I had thought about this as we were in the planning stages and was really wondering how I could do that schedule and keep the teaching gig as well. Not only the teaching, but the practices and concerts and the various other things teachers are called upon to do. We have some pretty long days as well. I think by the time we were setting up tables and chairs I had made up my mind, it’s just that it wasn’t 100percent. Its was but it wasn’t,” he said.
Alsop, who is 49 this year, has taught in Ladysmith for the past 17 years and before that he taught in Nanaimo for six years and previous to that he was a teacher in Abbotsford for two years.
“Teaching has been a great career. I’m really happy that folks are not too happy to see me retire instead of them being happy to see me go,” Alsop joked.
Music will still be a part of the Alsop legacy as he’s a member in several other bands and does gigs with friends and family. When asked what were the best times he can remember as being a teacher. Alsop didn’t waste any time in coming back and saying “the outside of class events were all great. The musical theatre events were all successes. We took students to Paris and Cuba and that created moments for them, so it was all memorable.
“I even had a student stop by today. I had taught him a few years ago, and he just wanted a pint and a chance to chat a bit. He left me a note congratulating me on the brewery and also thanking me for being his teacher. Those are what makes me proud and realize that I’ve been able help. That’s what’s behind Bayview Brewing, it’s about community and connecting and people.”