First Look: Lacey Lou Tapas Lounge

Straight out of the gate, Lacey-Lou Tapas Lounge became the happening place to be. Located in the old Rising Star bakery building, it’s now an art gallery, a tapas bar, and a tattoo shop all rolled into one. The high ceilings and exposed brick walls make for a dynamic space where people can mingle and admire local artwork.

Since the doors opened on April 5, it’s been full steam ahead with events already being booked three months in advance. Founder and owner Natasha Grau-Ensminger has barely had a minute to take it all in. She talks about Lacey-Lou (named after her dog) like a new mother about her baby (or dog)—lovingly, excitedly and a tad nervously.

“It’s a big undertaking with a lot riding on me. My team is great. They support me and are incredibly dedicated, but at the end of the day, I know it’s on my shoulders and I want to do something special here.”

BC Smoked Salmon Canapes-2

BC Smoked Salmon Canapes

Though I have a feeling this horse riding, tattooed artist isn’t the type do things half way. Grau-Ensminger is committed, qualified, and extremely passionate. After years of working in the hospitality industry from high-end hotels to rowdy bars, she felt a driven to open a space that fused creativity with community. After a solo, 10,000-kilometre  journey through the United States where she worked with wild horses and in hostels, she started a fundraising campaign with Indiegogo. Eventually, her proposal caught the attention of local investor Joshua Rai, whose contribution allowed her to approach the Business Development Bank. Once the location for Lacey-Lou was determined, it took six months and at least five engineers, twenty contractors, and seventeen inspections to complete. After all is said and done, anyone opening a food establishment in one of Victoria’s heritage buildings soon discovers it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Chalkboard Menu-Lacey Lou

Chalkboard Menu-Lacey Lou

Raised on an organic produce farm near Ladysmith, Grau-Ensminger has a strong sense of community and a deep appreciation for fresh, locally grown foods. The menu is a direct reflection of her upbringing, too: nothing is deep-fried or processed, only baked or prepared fresh. Chef Thom McMahon (from Pure Vanilla) is ensuring that produce orders come in every 2-3 days. Even the cookies are baked to order and served warm. The aim was to steer away from fast food items like burgers and fries, but to bring back a bit of 80s nostalgia: like the grilled ham and cheese with pineapple, or bacon wrapped dates, or the late night baked potatoes with all the fixings. It’s comfort food all the way, simple and wholesome without all the frills. The prices are almost retro as well, with nothing over $10 including tax.

The main concept for Lacey-Lou is to have a space that is accessible and affordable for everyone. The communal, farm-style tables and cocktail bar (all hand built from windfall wood on Thetis Island) add a welcoming and organic feel to the atmosphere.

“Even if you don’t know the person next to you, conversation usually flows when the subject is art. I want people to leave feeling inspired and interested in local art.”

The featured artists (Lacey-Lou houses 15 at a time) hang their work for a four-month rotation. Events are hosted almost every night of the week and easily reach capacity (100). Everything from live music to DJs to poetry to fashion shows is a go at Lacey-Lou’s. Check out the events page here.

Natasha Grau-Ensminger (Lacey-Lou)
Lacey the dog
Lacey-Lou Artworks

L-R:  Natasha Grau-Ensminger, her dog Lacey, Artist work on the walls.

Lacey-Lou Tapas Lounge

1320 Broad Street Victoria, BC





Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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