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Entrepreneur plans dry bar for downtown north core

Howl at the Moon Dry Saloon and Late Night Coffee Bar will offer a safe, fun nightclub space for those recovering from addiction, where alcohol won't be sold.
Jody Loos plans to open the Howl at the Moon Dry Saloon and Late Night Coffee Bar at 8 Cumberland St. South on March 31, 2023. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY — Jody Loos has attended more addiction-related funerals than he can count — or at least that he cares to count.

A bartender for the past 25 years, and someone who struggled with sobriety himself, he decided he wanted to be part of the solution,

Loos plans to open a dry bar on Cumberland Street South, a place where those at every leg of their recovery journey can venture for a night out on the town, without the pressure of alcohol in every direction tempting them to jump off the wagon.

“This space is going to be a place for people to come and socialize, mingle, network, dance, sing karaoke, take in comedy shows, fashion shows — anything that would happen in a really popular bar setting. But this is going to happen in a setting that’s conducive to no alcohol sales,” Loos said on Monday, days after the entrepreneur was handed the keys to the building, a former café, to take the next step in realizing his dream.

“I think Thunder Bay’s ready for that, and I’m really excited to bring it.”

The announcement comes less than a week after the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released new alcohol consumption guidelines, stating more than six drinks per week puts someone’s health at risk.

A dozen years ago, up to 11 drinks for women, and 15 for men, was considered safe.

One to two drinks are considered low risk. Three to six standard drinks are considered moderate risk, while seven or more put people at higher risk for seven types of cancer, most types of cardiovascular disease, liver disease and violence.

For Loos, it’s more personal.

“I’ve lost friends and family to addiction. I want to give people a safe space to come, and relax and have a great time,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about triggers, and they can focus on healing. We’re also going to have a resource centre in the back, where people who are newly into their healing journey can have access to resources that might not otherwise have access to.”

That could include information on treatment centres, in other cases elders who might be willing to counsel.

The one thing they won’t find at the Howl at the Moon Dry Saloon and Late Night Coffee Bar is judgment.

Loos said as a bartender, he understands why some might find his stance a bit hypocritical, but over the years he’s done his best to find help for those who come to him seeking it. But they have to be ready to start the sobriety journey, he said. Otherwise, it might not stick.

“I’ve made a lot of friends over the years and a lot of them are still living in active addiction. Zero judgment, because I love those people so much. But they’re hurting and Thunder Bay really needs a place when they are ready to heal, where they can go and feel safe and have the ability to do that healing. I think this project is going to help with that.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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