Woody’s Pub on Brunette is a mainstay in Coquitlam with a long-standing history in the community.
The original Woody’s opened in 1932 when the Fraser River Sawmills was in operation. Due to a labour shortage, 400 Francophones were recruited from Quebec to work at the mill. They settled in an area just north of the mill now known as Maillardville, and home to Woody’s.
“They were good drinkers,” present-day Woody’s Pub owner Gordy Cartwright says with a laugh. “The original owners started a hotel without rooms, just drinking. It was called the Woods Hotel at the time. Having a hotel license allowed them to have 340 seats versus a pub license with 125 or 180 seats.”
Cartwright bought the pub 24 years ago, changed the name to Woody’s, and turned it into what it is today. “It was probably about 2,800 sq. ft. when we bought it and now is 5,500 sq. ft.”
Cartwright had five pubs previously and has been in the industry for decades. “I always wanted Woody’s because it was land and buildings. It had a lot of seats, was very viable, and is in a great location,” he says. The pub is in the southwest corner of Coquitlam, right at the entrance to the freeway.
The pub came with a liquor store, which they still operate today as Woody’s Liquor Store. Cartwright took 700 sq. ft. of the pub and banquet area and turned it into Brunette Cannabis Co, which opened in June 2023.
Wings and Community at the Core
Cartwright says he was drawn to the hospitality industry because it was something new and exciting, and he liked sports. This was reflected in the early days of Woody’s. “We had originally gotten in at the ground floor and started with sports teams—darts, pool, hockey, baseball, soccer, etc.,” he says. “We were one of the first to put in entertainment and were very successful.”
The wings and community feel are what make Woody’s known today. “Woody’s is very famous for its wings,” Cartwright says. “We do 1,150,000 wings per year. I negotiate the deal on them every year! We have our very own recipe, which is very secretive. We just started with wings, and it grew and grew. We have people from Abbotsford, North and West Vancouver, and beyond coming for our wings. That’s why it’s nice being next to the freeway. We get people coming from all directions.”
Woody’s is very well-established in the community, Cartwright proudly shares. “Everybody’s Dad or Grandpa went here. We’re all about the history,” he notes. “Three of our staff have been here over 20 years. The staff really make the place. It is like a family.”
Woody’s also started the Dare to Dream Foundation, described as a group of everyday people offering a helping hand to those in their community that need it. From providing education endowment funds to students to increasing organ donation registration, the foundation helps people in the Tri-Cities and New Westminster succeed and live healthy, happy lives.
“I could talk for hours about what we’ve done,” Cartwright says. He looks back on a young girl they sponsored in gymnastics. “She was written up in The Province newspaper, doing a carwash to raise money that would get her to Russia to compete. The day after that, we interviewed her. She showed us all her report cards and medals—she was a straight A student who practiced five nights per week.” Woody’s ended up supporting her from 8 to 18 years old.
Supporting Healthcare Workers
One of Woody’s most visible demonstrations of community support was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cartwright arranged for a small plane pulling a banner thanking health-care workers to fly above Peace Arch Hospital and Royal Columbian Hospital.
Cartwright’s daughter is a nurse, and his condo is next to the hospital. He wanted to do more to support healthcare workers than ‘going out and beating the drums every day’ with his neighbours. Then one day he saw a plane flying above pulling a banner. “I saw it and thought that I am going to hire a plane—that is one way we can thank all the healthcare workers.”
When the Mayor of White Rock found out about the plane and banner, he postponed a council meeting so the councillors could go out and watch. He later called Cartwright to thank him.
Lunches for the Old-Timers
The pub shows its community supports in other ways too, from golf tournaments to community lunches.
“Once a year before COVID, we put on a lunch for all the old-timers from Maillardville,” Cartwright describes. “We hired a French band, they would be up there playing away and singing French songs. The whole thing was free for people to attend. It was really rewarding.” They hope to bring back the annual lunch next year.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought other changes, too. “We don’t have live music anymore, we actually cut that out,” says Cartwright. “We used to stay open until 2:00 am before COVID with music. During the pandemic, we closed at midnight and found it was better for our employees. Now we have virtual music, there is so much music on the Internet. You can control it better; you can’t control the sound with bands.”
Looking to the Future
As he looks to the future, Cartwright says things are going to be different but exciting with the cannabis store opening. “It has been a long process to get it open,” he explains. “The City of Coquitlam was one of the last municipalities to allow cannabis stores. We’ve only got six stores in all of the city with a three-year moratorium on any new licenses.”
Woody’s renovates every five years and they’re always looking for newer and better things. “We’re a meeting area and gathering area for the community,” Cartwright shares. “We keep up, we’re part of the community. It has been exciting! We’re always going to do more to grow and support our community.”
Images courtesy of Woody’s Pub on Brunette. Photos by Kallberg Studios