Rees’ Pieces: Chillin’ Like a Villain with Geoff Zanetti

Posted: December 6, 2011 by Windsor Zene in Interviews

This summer, I had the privilege of being introduced to Villains Beastro, a very different sort of venue.  Established about six months ago on Pelissier Ave. in downtown Windsor, Villains has since become a favorite place for local “scenesters”  to eat, relax with a pint of beer, and listen to some awesome live music.  Here is my interview with owner, Geoff Zanetti, all about Villains Beastro.

Rees:  Villains Beastro is probably the most “unique” bar/restaurant I have ever seen in Windsor. What made you think of “villains” as a theme, and how has the response been from first-time customers?

Geoff:  I love jokes so I wanted to create a concept that was playful, silly and strange. Something that we can all laugh at. The response has been fantastically phenomenal. People enjoy the atmosphere. It’s funny to watch first-timers come in and laugh at all the obscure villains on the wall.

Rees:  So far, there’s been a live music show just about every weekend since Villains Beastro opened its doors. What steps were taken to make Villains band-friendly, and what makes this bar so enjoyable for bands to play in?

Geoff:  I’m an entertainer myself and I enjoy being entertained. I like having a stage for any act out there whether it be for a rock show, art show, burlesque show, magic show or even a sex show. The stage is equipped with lights, sound and a beautiful 1966 wallpaper backdrop. Recipe for delight.

Rees:  Windsor has a small handful of bars that accommodate alternative music (rock, metal, hardcore/punk). Have you found that there’s been a lot of competition between Villains and the other bars? What sets you apart?

Geoff:  Of course there’s competition but people like playing everywhere. Each place is unique in their own way. Villains stands apart with our local charm and our sorcery.

Rees:  The menu at Villains has grown and changed since the summer. Tell us about some of the great foods and beverages served there, and the inspiration behind the very creative “names” of the various dishes.

Geoff:   The Snack-O-Torium pumps out all fresh foods all day long. Home-made mayo and clever names are something we pride ourselves in. The inspiration for the names comes from great super villains and that’s why we’re home to the world famous Chicken Cobra. The menu will continue to expand until we become downtown Windsor’s largest indoor, heated warehouse sandwich depot. We have 33 different types of beer and we’re the only bar downtown that carries Stiegl on tap.

Rees:  Of all the live shows that have taken place at Villains thus far, which were the most memorable? Explain.

Geoff:  That’s a tough question to answer because there have been many great shows. I’d say Surdaster for breaking in the stage with the first headlining show.  Also the surprise show that The Brains put on due to deportation was a lot of fun.  Kenneth MacLeod was memorable for playing the first downtown Oktoberfest, and also being a part of FAMfest this year was awesome. Of course, The Jet Trio (Geoff’s band) was purely delightful…

Rees:  Tell us about any “favorite” genres or bands, that make you think “Yes! So-and-so is playing tonight! I can’t wait!”

Geoff:  I like having bands with a different sound. I’m looking forward to The Motown Xmas Affair on December 10th and the Elliott Brood show on December 17th.

Rees:  Have patrons been respectful of the venue, or do people see it as just another place to trash?

Geoff:  For the most part people have been respectful. I’ve been told this is the only place downtown where women feel comfortable flushing the toilet with their hand and not their feet.

Rees:  Those of us who love Villains Beastro never want to see it close down! How much has Villains expanded from opening day until today? Are you surprised about how well business is going?

"I've always thought that Windsor needed a place like this and it turns out I'm not the only one."

Geoff:  The first six months have been pretty well received. We’ve expanded our menu, beer list and weekly events. The aim is to have a themed dress-up party at least once a month. Yes, I’m surprised that it’s going so well, I’m still surprised that I even got the place opened but I do love hearing all the positive feedback from people. I’ve always thought that Windsor needed a place like this and it turns out I’m not the only one.

Rees:  As a new venue owner, what are your goals for Villains in 2012? Any changes or additions planned that we can look forward to?

Geoff:  A lot of people still don’t even know that Villains exists, in the upcoming year I hope to reach out to more people with the food, music, drink and creative events. Each day more and more people are coming in and digging it.

Rees:  Do you find that the tempo is slowing down with colder weather? How do you plan to keep the momentum going over the holidays and winter months?

Geoff:  Even the rebels endured the harsh climate of the planet Hoth. Windsor is full of rebels.

Rees:  In what ways have you marketed Villains to potential new customers? Have you found that certain forms of advertising are more effective than others?

Geoff:  Word of mouth has been pretty effective thus far. A lot of people love the flyers but hopefully in the future we can come up with more creative ways to promote our fine establishment.

Rees:  What made you say “We need Stiegl on tap.”? Was it a love of the beer itself, or a hunch that it would sell?

Geoff:  I first had Stiegl three years ago in Toronto and fell in love with it at first taste. When I decided to open up a bar, I knew that Stiegl wasn’t around and that had to change. Bringing a new beer to the city center was key in making this place unique because not enough people knew that it even existed.

Rees:  Of all the villains’ portraits on the wall my own personal favorite is Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. Which one is your personal favorite, and can you share a little about the amazing artist who created these villainous portraits?

Geoff:  What can I say? Anything my friend David Houle does is my favourite. From the band flyers and the event flyers to the logo, he nails it every time, he gets it. The detail and thought that goes into each piece is incredible. He has as much passion in creating his art as Darth Vader has for ruling the Empire. The force is very strong with this one. Most impressive.

Rees:  I think one of the best features of Villains Beastro is its location. Has being situated in the heart of the downtown night scene been an asset to your success?

"Being located in the arts district is the only spot for us."

Geoff:  Being located in the arts district is the only spot for us. I don’t think Villains would really fit in anywhere else.

Rees:  Explain P.U.K.E. and V.O.M.I.T.  Do you come up with all of these fun weekly events by yourself, or have you had help from any of your friends, family, staff or customers?

Geoff:  P.U.K.E. = People Using Karaoke Equipment on Wednesdays.  V.O.M.I.T. = Villains Open Mic Instrumental Talent on Tuesdays. Those are ongoing weekly events.  For the most part, the ideas for the events are a collaborative effort but the names are where I get to have my fun.

Rees:  Finally, tell Windsor Zene readers about some of the upcoming December shows that we can look forward to.

Geoff:    Upcoming shows include The Night of a Billion Laughs Comedy Show on December 8th, Christmas in Hawaii on December 9th  (wearing Hawaiian shirts or grass skirts wins you a prize!), and the Motown Christmas Affair on December 10th.   The Rock & Roll Barber returns with her special deal, a pint and a haircut for $20 on December 15th.  We also have Elliott Brood on December 17th and Pop Your Cherry-oke on December 31st!

If you haven’t checked out Villains Beastro, it is located on 256 Pelissier Ave. downtown, and promises to be a fantastic experience every time you enter the doors.  I highly recommend this venue, whether you want to be entertained with live music, or whether you want to sit down with delicious food and a pint.  Bring a friend!  We’ll see you there.

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