Rye Smile

JS Dupuis is back doing what he loves, with the drinks he loves, at Homer Street Café and Tableau

It’s a time of change at the Homer Street Café and its sister venue, Tableau Bar Bistro. And that suits JS Dupuis just fine.

Following a stint in sales, Dupuis returned to the fold as beverage director for the restaurants in April.

“I learned a lot about the other side of the business, but I learned a lot about myself,” he says, sitting at the Homer Street bar. “I’m a hospitality person. I like working in the hospitality business, I like being in a restaurant, I like hosting events … this is where I want to be.”

Dupuis’ newfound sense of belief is driving a new direction for both Homer Street and Tableau, as he revamps their drinks programs to align with their identities.

For Tableau, which is going back to its bistro-cuisine roots, that means French-inspired cocktails featuring French ingredients. The latter includes vermouth, one of Dupuis’ favourites. The Montreal native is excited to see it gaining a new audience in Vancouver.

“Five, six, seven years ago you had one vermouth, and now people are asking ‘What kind of vermouth do you have?’ … People are starting to realize there’s more to these things and bartenders are getting more creative.”

At Homer Street, Dupuis gets to indulge in his other love, rye, which will offer a rough focus for the bar. The North American spirit just felt right for the retro-style café and the classic, high-ceilinged charm of its newer annex, which features a wealth of reclaimed features such as flooring from the demolished Pantages Theatre.

“In the past few years, a lot of distilleries have come up with a lot of fun Canadian whiskies, so I want to focus on it and use it just to set us apart a bit. And just because I like using it.”

That includes in cocktails such as Spring Flowers, featuring rye and limoncello, and Dupuis’ favourite, the Boulevardier.

Dupuis will also be pushing food pairing principles for his cocktail and wine selections, training staff and offering suggestions to customers.

“We want to make drinks that are light and fun and fresh that you can have before your meal; then cocktails that are more robust that can go with roast chicken or a beautiful piece of roast beef from the rotisserie; then maybe something bitter and stronger for after dinner.”

Underpinning the new direction at Homer Street and Tableau is a focus on value. That could mean fun specials such as a côte de boeuf for two, and “weird” wine selections from France by the glass.

“We want to offer good value at both places,” Dupuis says. “We’re a neighbourhood restaurant… Being neighbourly, offering great value, so you can come here once, twice, three times a week without having to break the bank.”

Homer St. Cafe & Bar, 898 Homer Street, 604-428-4299,

Tableau Bar Bistro, 1181 Melville Street, 604-639-8692,

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