© Chelsea Gray Photography
Pluvio restaurant + rooms is owned and operated by Warren Barr + Lily Verney-Downey, with help from many other talented individuals. When the two met in the kitchen of the Wickaninnish Inn many years ago, they realized a few things:
a) they share the same hard (some would say excessive) work ethic
b) they had both spent their life thus far building a career in hospitality with the end goal of opening their own restaurant
c) they both really like cats
d) they quite like each other!
Warren was born and raised in BC, first venturing into the culinary world at Doc Morgans Pub on Bowen Island and from there, he completed his apprenticeship at the iconic Le Crocodile Restaurant in Vancouver. His first Chef position was at The Inn at Bay Fortune in PEI, one of Canada’s pioneers in championing Canadian food and local cuisine. Here Warren worked closely with local farmers and fishers, learning to truly appreciate the hard work that goes into quality product. After 6 years of summer seasons in PEI and winters in Montreal, Warren moved back to the West Coast to take a position at the Wickaninnish Inn and put down roots closer to home.
Lily, originally from the UK, discovered her passion for hospitality early and spent her youth scrubbing pots, peeling potatoes, serving tables and cooking in various kitchens, before attending the University College Birmingham to study for a Culinary Arts Management degree. Lily completed her culinary internship at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino and reluctantly returned to the UK to graduate and work in a number of prestigious, if brutally hard, British kitchens. This experience sealed the deal for Tofino + she was on the next plane back to Canada and the Inn.
Once Warren + Lily had the important questions answered, like how many cats were too many and how should they proceed with their careers, some decisions were made which, whether they knew it at the time or not, were the beginning steps to opening Pluvio restaurant + rooms.
Warren accepted the position of Executive Chef at the Wickaninnish Inn, which was always his intention upon moving to Tofino. At the same time Lily left the kitchen to learn the other side of the business, working in administration, guest services and The Pointe Restaurant, where she spent the last year managing the department.
Having spent his career working towards defining Canadian cuisine and showcasing Canada's exceptional products, Warren was awarded the first ever North Star Award for Continued Culinary Excellence by Food Day Canada's founder Anita Stewart. During this time he also had the opportunity to cook at the acclaimed James Beard House for "The Flavours of Canada" event, take part in Canada C3 for Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation, and participate in hosting and cooking for the 2018 International Congress “Rendez-Vous” of Relais & Châteaux in Quebec City. He somehow made time to design and implement the complete renovation of the kitchen at the Inn and take on the role of lead Chef for the first ever Wickaninnish Inn cookbook. His team thought he was a pretty good Chef and mentor too, and the guests quite liked his food.
In the words of Charles McDiarmid, Owner + Managing Director of the Wickaninnish Inn, “Over his seven-year tenure, Warren Barr has had the greatest and most profound impact on our culinary program of any chef since our opening. His commitment to leading by example, consistent culinary excellence, grooming the next generation of culinary leaders and taking locally sourced products and suppliers to the next level, are all part of his significant legacy here at the Wickaninnish Inn. In addition to his impressive culinary accomplishments, his common sense approach to the hospitality industry, awareness of the big picture and superb good humour will stand him in good stead for his next venture which we all look forward to supporting and encouraging."
Warren and Lily spent quite some time looking for the right location to make the big leap into restaurant ownership, when one day a guest + family friend told them that they had heard Norwoods Restaurant in Ucluelet was going to be sold. After a period of waiting with fingers crossed, they were given the opportunity to purchase the restaurant, at the exact same time that the property the restaurant is situated on also went on the market. Never ones to take the easy path, Warren and Lily jumped at the chance to do both, and thought they might as well do a large construction project and add rooms at the same time. Having spent much time considering different areas but reluctant to leave the coast, they were overjoyed to move the few kilometers up the road and join the community of Ucluelet.
With huge support from our community, friends and family, and with an amazing team beside us, we are so excited to be able to share our experience and our passion for good food, delicious drinks and great service with the town of Ucluelet and its visitors.
We aim to charm and delight our guests, and each other, through kindness, generosity, creativity and fun.