Whether you’re a craft beer enthusiast or just one of the cool kids, for many Londoners Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium has become a staple.
But when the pandemic struck, things changed, and like many others, Milos (pronounced ME-losh, for those still unaware) was forced to change with them.
One of the silver linings to come out of it — to say nothing of BEER TO GO (!!!) — was the collection of hilarious, and sometimes seemingly unhinged video updates that started appearing daily on the pub’s Instagram.
The Many Faces of Milos Kral
These snippets provided a glimpse into Milos’ psyche that I didn’t know I needed. Along with providing updated information on changes, menu items, and new beer offerings, these videos provided everyone with a much-needed respite from the din of pandemic life. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes nonsensical, always a laugh, these Vine-level clips made venturing out to collect provisions (in the form of fermented grains in this case) much easier.
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I got to hang out with Milos and talk a little bit about what inspired these visual treats, and what we can look forward to, now that life is easing its way back to “normal” (knock on wood).
What inspired you to start doing the videos?
It was Lisa, (Milos’ partner), who suggested updating people every day on what’s going on, to make that personal connection. It started as just a couple of videos where I changed my hats, but suddenly it took on a life of its own — It took over me! One thing I felt strongly about was; everywhere I looked, every posting was doom and gloom. It was important to me to bring some humour. I think that the best humour can come out of the darkest times —and sometimes it has to — to be able to process it all. I’m Czech by birth, and that’s how we dealt with the hardest parts of our history.
Are all of the costumes and wigs yours?
Many of them are mine and Lisa’s, my neighbour Cindy lent me a couple of boxes, and one of our regulars Jason brought me some.
Was there a process for what made you choose your various outfits/bits?
I would come in sometimes, and just grab a hat or a vest or a wig or a shirt and ad-lib it. I just went with what I felt, with no specific process.
Any favourites or standouts of the costumes and wigs?
They’re all my babies! I connect with all of them, I can’t choose just one or two.
Did you notice that it was useful for business, as well as morale?
I believe so — it’s hard to measure. All I know is that our following went up, and literally every day someone would come in, or drive up to the curb for pick-up, and tell me that it was one of their bright spots. That was the idea! To focus on something more positive.
Have you found a lot of follow-through with regulars and customers?
It’s what kept us alive. We’re so fortunate to have an incredible community that frequents our establishment. Many of these people over the years become friends, and the lines become blurred. Some of these people I’ve known for 20+ years.
What are some (other) ways that you’ve had to pivot in regard to COVID?
Moving to just takeout was a huge change. And thanks to the changes in provincial regulations, we were able to follow through on the bottle shop idea.
Having counted yesterday, there are over 187 types of beer in the fridges, as well as the draught list.
What are things looking like moving forward? Aside from to-go beer(!!!), of course.
There are always plans and thoughts, my mind never stops. Going back to having a place where people can come together and enjoy each other’s company while they enjoy good food and awesome Ontario beer is first. Human beings are the same, we are social animals and want to come together and talk about things that interest us. I can’t wait to get back to being able to do that.
Can we expect more videos in the future?
Here and there, yeah! Now that things have picked up it’s harder to set aside time in the day, as many other small business owners will tell you. You can plan your day as much as possible, but you have to roll with what is happening.
Speaking of the future, what does a beautiful future London look like to you? How can we get there?
Well, it has to involve a thriving downtown, which I think will involve a higher density population and modernization. I don’t have a crystal ball; it is what it’s going to be.
We’re a high-tech hub, and we should make people aware of how many world-class businesses we have in this city – and we don’t even have a clue they’re here! Using what we’ve got already, and inviting more.
If London were a person sitting across the table from you, what would you say to them?
Stop being afraid of a change and embrace the new and out-of-ordinary. It’s okay – you can and you should respect tradition, but you need to embrace change because things should reflect where we are, where life and society are.
What’s your favourite part of London?
I love all the parks. London is such a pretty city; I have friends who visit from Czech and they always remark on how pretty it is. It’s friendly, it’s a good size, but overall, I believe London is what we make of it. This is my city, so I want to be positive and I want to see the good in it.
What is something in your opinion that the world is woefully short on?
Humour and goodwill. What we’re missing is this goodwill to actually come together as one species, rather than finding ways of separating ourselves into smaller and smaller groups.
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Are there any sayings or mantras that you live by?
There are so many! The first is; you learn something new every day. The moment you think you know everything, that’s the moment you start going downhill. Also, a day without a smile is a day wasted. But my personal mantra is just to try and not add to the negative energy in the world.
I like to surround myself with like-minded people, I don’t have time for the nay-sayers and negativity. A very basic term for hospitality is opening your home to strangers, and that’s what we do here every day.
Come together, right now, over beer
Throughout the tumultuousness of human history, beer and bread have been constants in our search for comfort, satiety, and community.
Milos knows that it takes more than just good food and drink to make people happy, it takes good people too — on both sides of the bar.
Ways to Connect
Or drop by 420 Talbot Street (at the corner of Talbot and Carling) to check out what he’s got to offer! I’m sure I’ll see you there!
Photos by Marty Annson.