The Dive Bar: Hole-in-the-wall tavern looks to cash in on Grey Cup Street Fest

Beyond new signs and name, not much has changed at the bar formerly known as The Hub Hotel, but the exactly what the owner hopes will draw in CFL fans.

'This is a good time for us to maybe give it a little facelift, a little lipstick'

The owners of The Dive Bar hope a new name, and signs will attract CFL fans celebrating the Grey Cup Street Festival along Jasper Avenue. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

With its new name, The Dive Bar is looking to cash in on CFL fans looking for a no-nonsense beer in a no-nonsense bar.

The beer is served in aging plastic jugs and the bar, known by regulars as the Hub Hotel, smells of spilled beer and worn carpet.

"We've always been sort of a nameless hole in the wall and we thought, 'Hey this is a good time for us to maybe give it a little facelift, a little lipstick," said Michael Bidlock, one of the owners.

'It was the sign that brought us here'

5 years ago
Duration 1:50
A name change to 'The Dive Bar' is attracting Grey Cup fans to one of the oldest bars in Edmonton.

Thousands of Edmontonians and visiting CFL fans are expected to partake in the Grey Cup Street Party along Jasper Avenue and the bar, near 97th Street, is right in the middle of it all.

On Friday afternoon the was bar filled with football fans in jerseys alongside the handful of regulars.

"The economy has not been kind to us over the last few years," Bidlock said. "So we're really hoping that this just gives us a little extra boost this month and hopefully we get a trickle effect and people say hey let's go to that dive bar."

The hotel, built in 1882, is the oldest brick building in Western Canada, Bidlock said.

This group of Edmontonians try to find old bars when they travel to the Grey Cup every year and were thrilled to stumble upon The Dive Bar on Friday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Gordon Grof, along with five other Edmonton Eskimo fans, stopped by the bar Friday after noticing the new sign. It was the first time he had been inside in nearly 40 years.

"My uncle used to frequent here," he said. "I used to come pick him up here at the old Hub Hotel. Back when it was 25 cents for a draught beer."

But Grof admits he may not be back any time soon as he doesn't frequent downtown bars.

"If the walls could talk here imagine a lot of bar fights in this place," Grof said, laughing.

Fintan Leonard, 70, was one of the few patrons not wearing CFL gear on Friday. He's been stopping into the bar a few times a year since the early 1980s.

"We used to have our union meetings at the Shaw Conference Centre across the street," Leonard said." A bunch of us would come here like after the meeting for beers."

"There's not many of the old-style hotels left anymore."

While the city has changed over the last few decades, Leonard likes that the bar has pretty much remained the same.

The Dive Bar was packed with CFL fans on Friday afternoon. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The Grey Cup Street Festival wraps up on at 11 p.m. Saturday, with the Grey Cup game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Ottawa Redblacks going Sunday at 4 p.m.




Travis McEwan

Video journalist

Travis McEwan is a video journalist who covers stories ranging from human interest and sports to municipal and provincial issues. Originally from Churchill, Man., Travis has spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton reporting for web, radio and television. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca.