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The idea of wearing a T-shirt declaring one’s fondness for drink and gluttony might seem odd to some, but a homegrown clothing brand is proving there’s plenty of pride and good cheer about it to go around.
Dave Drinkwalter bought up some domain names until the right idea came along — and two years after the Gluttons & Drunkards Clothing Co. became a thing, the brand is gaining popularity.
It all began with the Ontario native’s love of Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture and innovative food and drink scene.
An Old Testament verse from Deuteronomy supplied the moniker — gluttons and drunkards — likened to a kind of rebel in the verse.
"They shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard,’” reads the Bible passage that inspired a tongue-in-cheek interpretation through the local clothing brand.
For Drinkwalter — and investors in the brand, Jon Hilliard, Joel Clements, Andy Wettlaufer and Don Callahan — it’s about celebrating good drink, good food and good friends, as well as promoting the local foodie and craft drink scene.
The Instagram feed, gluttonsanddrunkards, is brimming with food photos to salivate over, from chocolate and cream-topped pastries to thick, cheesy burgers and fat fish sandwiches. There are no negative posts, as Drinkwalter said it’s not about reviewing eateries, but promoting tasty eats and drinks.
Drinkwalter is a personable character whose day jobs include being an offshore chaplain. He’s also a deejay.
After growing up in farm country of Mount Albert, Ont., he met his wife, Susan, who is from Newfoundland and Labrador, about 17 years ago.
Jon is very excited about our new limited edition beer belly growlers in Raptors red! He’s smiling on the inside. Only 6 available. Come see us at Ciderfest! Get tickets via: @nlcraftbeerfestival Go Raps!! . . #quidividi #stjohns #newfoundland #ciderfestnl #gluttonsanddrunkards
He fell in love with the province and they relocated five years ago. Drinkwalter gushes over the talent in the local music scene — including Bill Kelly, who “just destroyed it” on Drinkwalter’s early outing to O’Reilly’s — and the mentorship of legends like Fergus O’Byrne for young musicians.
He is beyond passionate about the community created by local foragers and chefs who work with native flavours, and the abundance and creativity of artists and craftspeople.
Drinkwalter’s father ran a seafood and meat operation in Ontario, so all their family trips were planned around food.
“It’s an important thing for me,” he said over coffee in the Paradise Starbucks. “Meals at the table. So much of life is based around food and drink and what happens.”
When he started buying domains related to the moniker gluttons and drunkards, he had no idea what he’d do with them until it hit him one day the term goes perfect with the love of a good meal and a good party.
With his friends’ talents, from sales to marketing and tattoo artistry (Callahan), the brand was born and unveiled at Roots, Rants and Roars in Elliston in 2018.
Over the Christmas season, Gluttons & Drunkards pared with Ninepenny Brewing and Poko Loko on an event, “Let’s Get Tibbs’y” and Drinkwalter hopes there are more special events in the future for the brand
Gluttons & Drunkards will also be back at the Hump Day market, hosted at the St. John’s Farmers Market building in St. John’s.
The clothes appeal to a wide range of clientele, including 20- and 30-somethings, but also the over-40 crowd.
They do limited runs of growlers, beer steins and mini kegs — the growlers and kegs being a standard size that can be filled at many craft breweries. Recent big sellers included the sold out “kitchen party expert” tea towels.
“It’s so neat to see people identify with the name and say, ‘That’s me,'” Drinkwalter said.
“That’s us as well. It’s a conversation starter.”
Among the products is a beer belly T-shirt that has the logo across — you guessed it — one’s belly.
They’ve gone as far as Boston and Charleston, N.C., and across Canada.
The guys are focused on the online store, as well as a presence at Newfoundland and Labrador markets, like the Night Market that operates at St. Thomas Church in St. John’s in the summer.
But Drinkwalter would like to eventually see some presence in stores.
He said he’s grateful to the food truck community, which has helped get the word out there.
“They’ve given us a lift I don’t think we would have had,” Drinkwalter said.
“We’ve had an absolute blast with it so far.”
Jon Hilliard, who works in sales, and Drinkwalter lunched a lot when both had more flexible schedules.
Hilliard frequently was being questioned by others about the local food scene, where cool spots are, and they tossed around the idea of a food blog.
But when Drinkwalter pitched the clothing line, that was it for Hilliard, who stands six-foot-four in height and self-describes as the glutton.
“I think it’s a great side thing,” said Hilliard, who came up with the “ruin your reputation” beer belly T-shirt slogan. “It’s a big focus on good food, good drink, good people and the best night of your life.”
He said there’s a lot of attention from outside Newfoundland and Labrador through the Instagram account.
“Everything is wide open,” said Hilliard, who has sold the shirts to people in their 60s.
“It’s just been a great ride, man. … Honestly, I am pleased as punch and I would love to see more.”
Even if those who don’t buy the product walk away with a smirk.
“Everybody knows it’s a bit of an exaggeration,” Hilliard said.