A progressive pub experience on Main Street in Newmarket offers participants a chance to kick back and relax while experiencing a variety of restaurants.
This is the second year for the pub crawl that launched in 2021 when the Main Street BIA approached local events company RiLax Events about starting something to get people back downtown after the pandemic. Existing restrictions meant there were limits on how many people could attend but this year they are doing more.
“This year the whole plan was to make it bigger,” said Ariana Laxdal, co-founder of RiLax.
Laxdal has worked in events for more than 12 years, including at Cardinal Golf Club before going to school for event management then working with various companies in the city. She started the company with her boyfriend and business partner, Spencer Ramsey, in 2020. She named it RiLax which is both a play on her name and encourages her clients to relax while she takes care of everything.
Having lived in Newmarket for most of her life, Laxdal said she wanted her business to serve the community.
“When we formed RiLax, we wanted to be very centred in the Newmarket community, very centred around community events," she said.
There are two streams of events with RiLax, she said. She offers planning for events like weddings, showers, and other parties but also plans her own kinds of events based on her ideas.
This was how she started in 2020, planning virtual events for the public in the midst of the pandemic, including paint and wine nights, cooking classes, and more.
"The virtual stuff went way better than we even anticipated. It got way busier than we thought, too,” Laxdal said. “People were just craving something to do.”
While she said people thought she was crazy for starting an events company during a pandemic, they turned a profit in their first year and established themselves in the events industry.
Now for a second year, RiLax is organizing the progressive pub experience with Main Street. Laxdal said the goal is to give customers a taste of the various offerings available for just over $100.
“If you were to go on your own and do a food and drink pub crawl, there’s no way you’re only spending $100 for the day,” she said.
The other goal for the restaurants who are participating is to showcase their selections and entice people to come back for more.
"What do you want people to know about, that you want people to go home and talk about, because that’s the goal,” Laxdal said of the restaurants.
The progressive pub crawl includes food and a drink at each stop, however guests have limited options to choose from. It starts at Cachet, then Hungry Brew Hops, followed by Made in Mexico and ending at Old Flame Brewery, where Laxdal also works as the taproom manager.
Guest receive a swag bag from local businesses, a lanyard with their pass for the event, and their food and drink is included in the ticket price so they don't have to settle up at any stop.
The pub crawl runs every other Sunday throughout the summer with the next one on June 26. The first already happened on June 12 and Laxdal said it sold out.
Each day there are three different time slots at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. with a limited number of spots available in each. Tickets cost $107.10 to $112.41 depending on the time, which includes the ordering fee. You can buy online through Eventbrite.