The hospitality industry is a competitive one. With a vibrant scene in the Heritage City, those hoping to bank a buck from locals and tourists alike have to put their best foot forward. Celebrating milestones in business is well deserved for those who’ve found a fitting format.
It’s been ten years of striving to improve for Tanya Finley and Brent Holowaychuk.
When the couple took over Finley’s Bar and Grill on May 1 in 2003, it had a different name and a different reputation.
“Even good people behaved badly here because they could,” said Finley.
This Friday, Finley’s celebrates the strides made at their 10-year anniversary party where they invite regulars and rookies to get a taste. Celebrations include wine, beer and food tastings provided by Finley’s suppliers to which they’ve remained loyal for the entire 10 years. Prizes and giveaways are also part of the event. Alongside playoff hockey, Sunshine Drive hits the stage at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s a way to showcase what Finley’s really is,” says Finley. “This is our time to shine.”
Their kitchen, shared with Sage which Finley and Holowaychuk opened a year after they bought Finley’s, boasts earning Nelson’s best burger.
“Ten years ago, this was the last place any self-respecting Nelsonite would have come for anything to eat,” Holowaychuk says. “Now we’ve got seniors coming in for lunch and dinner. It’s nice to see the cross section of community we have in this establishment.”
Making it accessible to the broader community are the renovations. Starting with big west-side windows the couple continues to put money back into their business. Right now, the patio is getting an overhaul. They recognize environment is as important as food and drink.
“At the end of the day people come to a bar less to buy the food and drink and more for the experience and that’s our goal, to provide the right experience,” he says.
Helping out are a staff of 35 to 50 people at the bar and grill that’s open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
“It’s a small but big operation,” says Finley, thankful to the staff for “stepping up” as the parents start their family. “It’s a balance to have a good family life as well.”
Holowaychuk says balance enters into this competitive business too — keeping things fresh while holding true to proven Finley’s winners. Their karaoke Sundays and Wednesdays have been anchor nights for 15 years, since before their time. They throw in a few shows “to keep things spicy” and host fundraisers for groups and charities.
Being involved in the community is important for the couple who have both sat as Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce directors, been involved in Rotary and sponsor, and plays on, sports teams.
“We’ve put ourselves into the community we call home,” says Finley.
They’ve put themselves into their business as well and it’s been exciting for them to see the rewards.
“It’s been so much fun to see our targets met and growths happen — to see our business start to do really well,” she says.
On the dining scene, All Seasons Café has a new chef in the kitchen — Robert Erickson who has just finished a new menu for owner Paul Archambault.
Erickson is returning to Nelson. Eight years ago he worked at the All Seasons while spending a season on the hills at Whitewater and Red Mountain.
“I loved Nelson but at that point in my career, I was ready to cross over into the head chef position and I didn’t see the opportunities here,” he says. “When I got back to Vancouver, is when things really took off.”
Erickson spent two charter seasons cooking for Langara Fishing Adventures and practiced his cooking while travelling to Asia and Europe in the off-season. Settling in Vancouver, he spent time at Wild Rice, became partner at Central Bistro.
“This is where I built my name up in Vancouver,” he says.
A strong background in Asian fusion along with vegan an vegetarian cooking, Erickson has been connected with Ocean Wise since its beginning. He is featured in their cookbook.
Showing off his skills and style, some dishes on the new menu include starters like the Indian spiced zucchini falafel fritters and Balinese long pepper crusted venison Carpaccio. Mains like Nelson farmers NO noodle vegetable lasagna includes house made lemon ricotta and BC Moroccan Spice Rubbed Trout features lobster bisque fennel reduction.
Before making his return to the All Seasons, Erickson also worked at the Cedar Creek Winery — “one of the coolest jobs” he’s had. Ironically, there are nine Cedar Creek wines on the All Season’s menu as one of former owners favorites.
Erickson is excited to be back in Nelson thankful that his strong background has brought him to the All Seasons kitchen.
“This is where I want to spend my life,” he says. “Everything has just been falling into place for me.”
And in the same neck of the woods, Nelson Star’s back ally neighbour Bellaflora turns one-year-old this week. Kyla Jakovickas’s Herridge Lane shop features floral and plant designs in their art-filled space. Currently, local artist Alf Crossley is on exhibit. The first birthday is always a big one. Congrats.