Stepping into the Huether Hotel is like stepping through a doorway into the past. It has long been a popular spot for food and drink, music, or a night out with friends. The building was founded in 1842 as a brewery and inn; it is one of the oldest breweries in Canada. In the 1800s it was run by Adam Huether and his son Christopher. Over the decades the establishment has undergone a few changes in name and ownership, but has wondrously retained all of its old charm. In 1953 the building was purchased by John Adlys and has stayed with his family ever since. Today, The Huether Hotel is no longer a hotel, but a marvelous venue for dining, drinking and enjoying. The building is split into four sections: The Lion Brewery Restaurant, Café 1842, Barely Works, and The Jazz Room.
The Historic Lion Brewery Restaurant
When Christopher Huether owned the Huether Hotel in the late 1800s, he advertised that for $1 per night, the inn offered cuisine “unsurpassed by that of any other chef in this section of the country”. I think this claim still holds true today, except perhaps for the part about it being $1 per night (imagine that!) The Lion Brewery Restaurant is situated where the original brewery in the 19th century was operated. It is now a wonderfully cozy restaurant, featuring an enticing menu and a selection of beers and wines brewed on premises, as well as many imports. It is open from 11am until 1am every weekday, and from 10am until 1am on weekends. All-day breakfast is also served on the weekends for all the not-so-early birds. The menu offers an extensive selection of food; there’s something for everyone. Inside you’ll find the original stone walls and floors from the days of Christopher Huether himself. The low ceilings and fireplace make the restaurant feel intimate and inviting. The 37’ bar is made of a smooth wood and the open concept kitchen gives diners a view of the fresh and delicious food being cooked by the chefs. The main dining area holds seating for 100 and near the back are two quaint caverns available for private functions. Just upstairs from the dining area is the Speakeasy Billiards Room, a large room with several billiards tables and arcade games to enjoy with friends.
Another great thing about the Lion Brewery Restaurant is their legendary chicken wings. In fact, when I was a little girl I called it the “chicken wing restaurant” because whenever my family ate here, my father and brother would always order the wings and rave about how good they were. But they serve much more than amazing wings. The hand-crafted beers served at the Huether Hotel are truly something special. The owners are extremely knowledgeable about the brewing process. They use fresh grains stored in their own silo, imported hops and no preservatives. Every brew is fresh, delicious and lovingly-made. The Adlys Ale is a favourite among customers; it’s a unique, full bodied ale.
Inside what used to be the hotel lobby is now Café 1842, an elegant, nostalgic café, adorned with stone archways, exposed brick walls, restored tin ceilings and original marble floors. It opens at 7am and begins serving breakfast at 7:30am. There are many delicious breakfast options, including eggs and home fries, omelettes, waffles, French toast, smoothies, and their specialty: eggs Benedict. At lunchtime, the café also serves soups, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads and burgers. In addition to all this, the café always has an array of lovely sweets and baked goods. If you’re not feeling hungry, then you can savour a hot cup of coffee, tea or a latte by the fireplace. There are few things as pleasant as sitting in front of a fireplace, with a comforting drink and a good book.
Barley Works Bar and Restaurant
Follow the stairway upstairs and you will find Barley Works, a bright, airy restaurant and bar. The Barley Works features beautiful hardwood floors, a 40’ bar and lots of TV screens for enjoying sporting games of all kinds. Outside is a spacious and scenic patio overlooking Uptown. On warm summer evenings, this is one of my favourite places to sit and have a drink with friends. There is seating for 300 on the patio, six TV screens showing sporting events, and music played throughout. The patio is very well attended and the 300 seats can fill up fast; to ensure a spot, reservations can be made until 5:30pm. During the warm months, there is live entertainment on Saturday afternoons from 1pm until 5pm. On the balcony above the Barley Works restaurant are another two beautiful rooms available for private functions, seating 100 between the both of them. One of the rooms overlooks the restaurant below, giving it a charming view. The second room will soon be expanded to seat even more.
The Jazz Room
The fourth section of the Huether Hotel is the Jazz Room. I’ve only seen this room in the daytime; I haven’t yet had the chance to attend one of their famous jazz nights. But in my head I imagine a dim, hazy jazz club from the 1920s, filled with the sound of saxophones and grand piano keys and people having a grand ol’ time. From the photos I’ve seen of the Jazz Room, I don’t think I’m not far off the mark. The Jazz Room is home to the Grand River Jazz Society. Every Friday and Saturday night, the society invites local jazz musicians to play, as well as talent from all over – places like Toronto, Vancouver and even New York City. The Jazz Room opens its doors for dining at 7pm, offering a full food and drink menu. The main jazz show of three sets begins at 8:30 and continues on until 11:30. Cover charges range from $12 to $20. The Jazz Room fills up quickly as it is a very popular spot for live music and drinks, so it’s best to get there early. The Jazz Room is home to a magnificent full sized grand piano that had a special, custom stage built specifically to support it.
The Adlys Family Business
Before writing this article, I was given a tour of the Huether Hotel by David Adlys, grandson of John Adlys and one of the present-day owners. To see his passion and enthusiasm for the establishment and all the work that he and his family put into it was truly admirable. They have done so much to restore the building, keeping its rich history and beautiful architecture for future generations to admire. For the Adlys family, the Huether Hotel is their life. David said the establishment was “like a big baby”. They all took care of it, and if any little thing went wrong, they fixed it right away. They are extremely dedicated and are planning even more improvements for the future, such as expanding kitchens, dining areas and brewing areas.
There is certainly something for everyone at the Waterloo Heritage landmark, the Huether Hotel. I give it my warmest praise and I highly recommend it to all.