I don’t throw parties often, but when I do- I pull out all the stops – and my friends know this about me. Only the good stuff is served for my friends. Grey Goose, RedBull, Bombay…you get the picture. As for food, let’s just say you will never find frozen appetizers or spinach dip from Safeway being served either. When I throw a party my friends get spoiled, leave full, and stumble home in taxis.

Last night the Donnelly Group hosted their VIP opening for their newest property The New Oxford. Now, most restaurant media openings are closer in comparison to the description I explained above – copious amounts of drinks and fantastic food to nosh on. It is clear that the Donnelly Group swims in a different sea than most, as their formula was the complete opposite to this.

    The media opening at The New Oxford was closer to this:

  • pack the place with the bridge and tunnel crowd who want to watch the Canucks game
  • disregard the media peeps who actually RSVP’d for the event
  • give out 2 drink tickets to the VIP
  • Have a cash bar as well as table service to confuse the wait staff and fully stress them out on what should be an important night
  • serve canapés randomly to force people to order from the menu

I think you get the picture.

From the get-go we knew it was going to be a shit show inside. When the hostess responsible for greeting guests does not have a current guest list, you suddenly don’t feel very ‘VIP’. Once inside, guests were given 2 drink tickets and left on their own. I can’t tell you if there were any drink specials being offered as the tickets were only good for well drinks. Clearly The New Oxford was pulling out all the stops!

Now perhaps the joke is on us. Maybe the Donnelly Group has enough friends. Maybe their tribe is so large that they don’t have to give a rat’s ass about pleasing foodies, and the media. After all, the requisite attractive female quota was far exceeded on opening night, so maybe a pub like this does not need to worry about service and food. If this is the case they did a good job and the joke IS on us.

If Donnelly Group plans on having The New Oxford to serve as a litmus-test and launching point for new cocktail and dining menu items for the entire company, they definitely have their work cut out for them. This may be Yaletown, but your new clientele requires a bit more than good looking servers.

On a positive note, the space is fantastic.

Here is another report from Tales From A Barstool on the ‘VIP Opening Night’