Despite his seeming calm, Tim Cameron is rattled.
He’s got good reason.
It’s Wednesday, and Cameron, his eyes darting around the room, stands amid a mess of furniture, tools and sawdust.
His new bar ,Tippler’s, opens Friday – in just 72 hours, and the liquor licence hasn’t been confirmed yet, the fire inspector can’t show until Thursday, the appetizer menu hasn’t been finalized and now the fridge is on the fritz.
“There’s a list, a prioritized list,” he says, chuckling. “I’m not sure how long it is. It grows and shortens every day and the things you think are going to be easy turn into a big can of worms.”
He’s not new to business, but the 27-year-old entrepreneur is new to this kind of business.
“It has only ever been just on me,” he says. “Never this many employees and permits … it’s a bit overwhelming at times.”
Hence the stress.
But Cameron knows he can do this, and can point to a string of ongoing businesses to prove it.
There’s the Specialty Food Guys, TiCam Entertainment (where Cameron totes the DJ name, “Tundra Tom”), TiCam Tile and Stone and now Tippler’s.
While it may not seem so, the “t”-titled companies are actually all connected.
Entertainment, bars and food fit together, he says, adding Specialty Food Guys will help the bar more than take time away from it.
The high cost of shipping food – especially specialty food – to Yukon makes it difficult for a small bar to place orders on its own.
Being able to funnel food sales out of the bar will be a huge help, he says, adding some stocks and sauces will be available for wholesale once the bar is up and running.
Cameron is passionate about cooking. While achieving his culinary certificate at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, he was given the opportunity to do tile work on the side. He continued working in the food industry and says he worked his way up in a high-end restaurant in Calgary until the only one above him was the owner.
Realizing the only room for him to grow was creatively, he says he saw the economic opportunities with his moonlighting career.
“I’ve always had the business bug,” he says. “There’s good money in construction. You can make good money in the food industry too but you can’t get ahead and be where you want to be cooking for somebody else. So I had to get my own place.”
And he lucked out on the place he did get, Cameron admits.
Despite the mess inside the former Capital Pub, nothing much has changed, says Cameron.
“I got into a beautiful space that Keith (Jacobsen) built. I’m still disappointed to see that Keith didn’t make it, but I really like his vision. I’m a different person, I’m going to bend it a little bit, I’m going to change some things in there but I’m keeping a lot of the same. I really liked what he was working with in there.”
Jacobsen, another young entrepreneur, was the last person to lease the space. He discovered the former Capital Hotel needed a lot more work than he was expecting.
Renovating and bringing the pub to standards left Jacobsen with a bill of around $800,000.
Without much publicity, Jacobsen closed the doors of the Capital Pub and Coasters Bar and Grill, which he had also taken over, this past summer.
Jacobsen has been a great help, says Cameron of his predecessor.
“When I’ve needed it, he’s been there,” he says. “Which has been really nice, really big of him.”
When it became clear that the Capital Pub was going to reopen as Tippler’s, rumours began to spread about a possible boycott of regulars to show support for Jacobsen.
But Jacobsen would not condone this.
“I wish Tim the best of luck in his endeavour,” he says.
All Tippler’s can do is provide a good place for people to come, says Cameron.
Stephen McGovern agrees.
“What people do is their own prerogative,” says the 27-year-old local comedian. “Obviously I’m not going to boycott.”
Every second Thursday – beginning on December 9th – McGovern and the rest of the Whitehorse comedy contingent will be performing at Tippler’s.
The group is excited about the intimate setting that will let them get up-close and comfortable with their audience, says McGovern.
The comedians have been slightly homeless after Coasters Bar and Grill closed down.
Cameron expressed interest in the group when they started trying out Foxy’s on Tuesday, says McGovern.
“Tuesdays are just the worst nights,” he says. “Tim offered us Thursdays and we jumped on it because we figured it would be a good night … hopefully it will treat us better for fanfare.”
While the comedians do have monthly shows up at the Guild during the winter, they are really hoping Tippler’s will fill the void that Coaster’s left, says McGovern, adding that they had been performing there for three to four years.
“Everyone, look out for December 9th,” McGovern says with his comedic drawl. “I hope it works well and our awesome reviews will change any boycotter’s minds!”
Cameron isn’t worried.
“We’re good,” he kept saying. “There are some issues, some equipment not running, but I hope it’s nothing insurmountable.”
Tippler’s will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week. The menu will be largely lunch and appetizer-based, he says. Simple sandwiches – with the exception of an adventurous vegetarian option – will couple with a beer to make a great lunch deal, he says.
And the beer will echo the same sentiments of the menu, he says.
“We’ll have that bottle of domestic. Like food, beer can be a comfort thing. I’m not going to try and take that away from people, but at the same time I hope they will give other beers a shot.”
The Yukon Brewery will make-up the taps’ frontline and will go for about $6.25/pint, says Cameron. More interesting imports will be available in bottles, there will be some stuff from Okanagan and the draft line will have more expensive options, like Guinness and Strongbow, he says, if for no other reason than the fact that a crown float is Cameron’s drink of choice.
With the tile company put on hold, Tippler’s is taking up the majority of Cameron’s time – including many hours that he should be sleeping, he says.
And you wont catch him putting on his “Tundra Tom” DJ hat anytime soon, he says pointing out that Tippler’s will not be a dance club.
But live music will be a priority for weekends, he says, confirming a jazz band in house on Saturdays.
Tippler’s has also been approved for trivia, says vice-president of the Yukon Liquor Corporation Virginia Labelle.
The corporation did review trivia under the definition of “gaming” in an establishment, Labelle confirms, which is not allowed. However, on Thursday Cameron was given the OK to go ahead with trivia, she says, and his liquor licence has been approved in principle with logistics well along the way.
So it appears the Whitehorse bar, with the newest name, could open on schedule.
“It’s old English slang,” says Cameron. “A tippler is a drinker. It just seemed fitting.
“We decided we needed to rename it for a clean slate,” he says, reminiscing about the conversation he had with business partner Don Hawco.
The two have a lease on the space for one year but he, Hawco and the property owners: Whitehorse Cattle Limited, all see Tippler’s lasting a lot longer than that, Cameron says.
By press time, none of the owner’s of Whitehorse Cattle Ltd. were available for comment except Karen Lang, who refused.
The worry or myth that the former Capital Hotel could now become a “young-entrepreneur-eating-machine,” is not one Cameron entertains, he says.
“I really admire Keith and what he did,” he says. “He had great ambition and went out there and went for it. There’s not a lot of people that’ll do that in life. I’m going to do it. I am 28 years old. If I open Tippler’s and fall flat on my face with it in a couple of years, I’ve got time to get back. I’m young, so I’ll go for it.”
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at