'I just have loved it': Regina server says goodbye to Bushwakker Brewpub after 3 decades

Longtime Bushwakker server Cheryl Tovey worked her last shift at the Regina brewpub on Dec. 31. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News - image credit)
Longtime Bushwakker server Cheryl Tovey worked her last shift at the Regina brewpub on Dec. 31. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News - image credit)

A Regina woman who has spent 30 years working at Bushwakker Brewpub has passed on her serving tray.

Cheryl Tovey's familiar face is a staple at the brewpub on par with its blackberry mead or Firkin Fridays.

The longtime server hung up her apron for the brewpub on Dec. 31.

Tovey said the best part of the job was the connections she made over the years with coworkers and customers.

"I could be myself," said Tovey.

"You got to know all the people you were serving … people are coming here because they're driving out of their way to come here. That's how much they enjoy it here."

Tovey said that if she hadn't started working at the brewpub, she might have moved away from Regina.

"This place just drew me in and I just have loved it," said Tovey.

WATCH | After 30 years Bushwakker Brewpub's Cheryl Tovey is passing on her serving tray:

Love at first rush

Tovey has worked at the brewpub almost as long as it has been open, with her first day on job in 1992.

It was the Thursday before Good Friday, one of the busiest days of the year, and she was thrown in without training.

Tovey started taking food and drinks out to customers without understanding how orders were entered into the till, having to be corrected on which tables the items were for.

"I remember her running around, but I also remember her being fairly calm and cool and collected, like she seemed to know what she was doing," said Grant Frew, bar and marketing manager for Bushwakker Brewpub.

"Given the fact that she had worked at the Plains Hotel before, which was a wild and crazy place, I really didn't have too many concerns about her ability to do the job."

Kirk Fraser/CBC News
Kirk Fraser/CBC News

Tovey went on to become the brewpub's floor manager, training new staff, making schedules and watching over all the tables.

Frew said staff came to know Tovey as a mother hen, a listening ear who they were comfortable going to with problems, whether personal or work-related.

"She wants to serve and treat people the way that she wants to be served and treated and that goes a long way, a huge way," said Frew.

Legacy of friendship and ale

Tovey's legacy will live on at Bushwakker Brewpub. Her lists and protocols to train staff are still in use, and people can still see her face on Cheryl's Blonde Ale.

It was Tovey's idea to add a blonde ale to the beer list in the mid-2000s and she worked with the head brewer at the time, David Rudge, to create it for the pub.

Bushwakker Brewing Company/Facebook
Bushwakker Brewing Company/Facebook

Frew said Tovey's connections with her customers go beyond the workplace. She has attended weddings and funerals of customers who have become part of her life.

"Many people call her the most popular woman in Regina because she has her finger on the pulse," said Frew.

Outside of the brewpub, Tovey's contribution to the community was recognized with a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.

A farewell party will be held on Jan. 12, with live musical performances, a tapping of a black raspberry porter, and all of Tovey's favourite menu items like wings and Pop's pizza.