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INTERVIEW: Julie Eyres on the return of the Garage
Could the worst of the recession be behind us? Has Rossland reached its low point and begun its rebound? Signs are popping up quite literally along Columbia Avenue in the past two months that would indicate that might be the case.
Following a winter that saw a number of businesses disappear off our main street, including Delich Jewellers, Red Mountain Furnishings and the Red Mountain Ventures office, the fall seems to be bringing new life to the downtown core.
“I’ve got 14 new members since September! Yes, it’s great to see,” said Julie Parker of the Rossland Chamber of Commerce.
As reported in the Telegraph, the East end of Columbia has recently seen the addition of Delicious Baby Wear and the Mountain Nugget Chocolate Factory. This week will see the west end of the strip having its day with the Garage restaurant re-opening and rumours of another new restaurant opening in the former Red Mountain Furnishings building.
This week The Telegraph caught up with Julie Eyres to chat about her second go around with The Garage.
So what brought about the re-opening of The Garage?
Well I dumped my partner when we closed last time. Funny enough, I closed exactly one year ago to the day I am re-opening. Friends of mine that own the building wanted me back in here rather than new renters. My landlords are just awesome; they’ve always been very good to me. This has been my baby anyway. I did all the renovations to change it from the gas station into this. It would have been kind of hard to let it go forever.
How long has it been since the gas station was operating now?
It’s been four years now. I closed down the Uplander across the street after being there for 20 something years and then I came over here and did this.
When I was renovating, it was really fun, Alfie Albo that used to run the garage here years ago used to always come over for hours and tell me stories about when he had it. He’s given me lots of old pictures of the place, which is great. We now have the old photos up around the restaurant. It’s really nice to have that history around. Everyone in town knew him. I just wished he had lived longer.
What will be different in the restaurant this time around?
It’ll be a real family place now. We’ll have a children’s menu, burgers, steak, homemade halibut and chips. All of that kind of good, wholesome family stuff. It’ll be way more casual. We’ll keep the prices low and affordable and keep it really welcoming for families and children.
We’ll just do dinner for now. I’m keeping my full time job at Cominco. I’m stretched pretty thin here already (laughs). It would be great if I could find another chef and then maybe we can look at opening for lunches.
We’ll open at 5:00 right now and then when ski season comes around we’ll open at 4:00. There are not really a lot of places to go after 3:00 in this town right now. Everything kind of closes down.
Do you think there is capacity for another restaurant in town?
Well there is for families from what people have been telling me. Hopefully it will work and people won’t have to drive all the way to the Rock Cut to eat out with their kids.
It’s funny. I’ve been in the restaurant industry my whole life and it’s like, you know, you bend over backwards but there will still be someone who is unhappy. You do everything they say and when they ask for a family restaurant you then get people who want the steakhouse back. I did really well with the steakhouse here before. I had steak and ribs and that stuff. I thought it was family-oriented then but people were like, 'Oh you have white table cloths!' I just thought they were clean and crisp looking. I like white table cloths [laughs]. Everybody freaked over the white table cloths. They thought they were intimidating for families [laughs]. I mean we’re washing them anyway so bring your kids along. Don’t worry about being messy.
During the interview Eyres was hard at work sewing up new black table cloths for the re-opening.
Now we have the kids' menu so it’s really geared towards families even more. We’ll have a $4.95 kids menu. You can’t even go to McDonald's for that price.
What’s your favourite item on the new menu?
My ribs are my speciality. People know me for my ribs. I like doing desserts too. My favourite dessert is my chocolate mocha torte. I’ve been supplying The Old Fire hall with their desserts. I told them [laughs] 'when I re-open I might not be able to send you my best desserts anymore', but, no, I’ll still be helping them out. We’re two different markets, really. We’ll be open in the evenings for the coffee and dessert crowd too. It’s hard to get a coffee in this town after 3:00.
What’s the trick to making a restaurant fly in Rossland?
I think it’s just finding you’re little niche and keeping your regulars happy but being open to change to meet what people want and ask for. A lot of people have been asking for a family restaurant lately it seems so that’s what I’m going to focus on this time. I try to give people what they want. I’ve kept my prices low. I still have really good quality food and I’ve sometimes taken a loss on the price but none of my prices weren’t too high last time around either.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how the family concept goes this time around.
The Garage re-opens this Saturday at 5:00. Word on the possible new restaurant in the Red Mountain Furnishing’s building is that a tender has been put out to contractors to renovate the building for a restaurant. The exact form of the business is unknown at this stage.