Goodbye Jodi

Today marks a week from the last day of LowBrewCo’s longest-serving employee: Jodi Larson. There since day one, her departure was occasion for rare tears from el presidente Taras Manzie.


Taras first met Jodi when she dropped off her resume at South View Bistro (the Manzies’ original restaurant in Keewatin). Taras pushed aside the resume and hired her on the spot — not too surprising, as he is not exactly one to dance around with small talk and paperwork. It sets a nice scene, yes, but it turns out things weren’t actually jelling at first between bossy Taras and this 18 year old kid. Jodi had never been a server, and Taras figured he’d probably have to let her go. But, somehow, someway, with some magic… Jodi and Taras hashed it out, and he came to realize it wasn’t her that was the problem, it was him. Just like that, things clicked: Taras became a better leader, and Jodi excelled. Now, years later, Jodi has been a server, a bartender, a shift lead, a manager, an accountant, and an unofficial counsellor. Taras went on to proudly tell me that Jodi had been a huge part of the learning curve and decision-making process for the brewery since day one, and that she has always been loyal, accountable, personable and most of all, loved by all the staff. She gained the respect of others by genuinely looking out for them. Hearing these kind (gushy) words from Taras, I really got a sense of why he got emotional in Jodi’s farewell toast.

“I never drank coffee until the summer that Lake of the Woods Brewing Company opened.”  –Jodi Larson


Jodi remembers the early days of Taras waxing poetic about opening a brewery in Kenora. These whispers were followed by tall guy Rob Dokuchie hanging around, which then lead to the purchase of the Kenora Fire Hall, a mess of construction, and just like that, a brewery! From the day it opened, LOWBrewCo was a happening place, and as a result, Taras was very busy keeping up with the dream. Jodi stepped up and basically ran the bistro in his absence, and it wasn’t long before she was tag-teaming both places, jumping in at the brewery partway through a bistro shift. When she moved to working solely at the brewery, she would still go out of her way to help, even if that meant getting geared up at 10:00pm to boat to the mainland from her island home and work until the night’s end. Over the years, other people would come and go, trying to manage, co-manage, take charge. Jodi would make space for them, and be patient as they tried to understand Kenora. Usually, they would move on, and always, she was there to pick up the slack when they did. Jodi didn’t commit all those years to this place just because breweries are cool; her loyalty to the Manzie family was a huge part of the feeling that kept her coming back. As co-owner Rob states it, “Jodi is a treasure trunk of corporate knowledge on how this place runs.” Beyond work, folks around here will miss her heart. Luckily she is a friend of LOWBrewCo and will always be welcome. Plus, you never know… maybe she’ll be back…

As for Jodi? She’ll miss the regulars at the bar, the atmosphere, and ultimately the people of Lake of the Woods Brewing Company. She may not, however, miss the late-night boat commutes, and she definitely won’t miss dealing with angry customers, upset with such monstrosities as chunks of blue cheese in their blue cheese dip…

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