Buildings and companies in Nelson come and go and change with time but one business on Baker Street has continued to be a fixture in the community.
“Nelson is such a heritage city,” said one of The Royal’s new owners and operators Paul Hinrichs. “With us having such a hot spot, there is so much excitement that comes and goes through here, and The Royal has had 100 great years.”
Hinrich and Howie Ross took over ownership on October 7 under the mentorship of the previous owner Luke Menkes.
“Basically it’s business as usual heading in the same general direction, but we have changes in mind to do,” said Ross. “Paul and I are both into music so that will continue to be our focus. This place was going to change. It was going to change out of a music venue and personally I couldn’t see that happening, and I couldn’t allow that to happen.”
The Royal has brought in major international acts such as Leon Russell, John Mayall, Judy Collins and regularly showcases touring Canadian bands like Imaginary Cities, The Crooked Brothers and in the next few months Yukon Blonde, Great Lake Swimmers and Kathleen Edwards.
“That’s what we’re about,” said Ross. “We’re about the music. We want to keep this venue going but neither Paul or I wanted to own a bar.”
As sponsors for the 2012 City of Nelson cultural ambassador The Royal has continued to solidify its importance in the community as destination for music lovers.
Even though the focus is on great international, Canadian and local talent, Hinrich and Ross wanted to make the music part of an over all experience.
“We don’t drink,” said Hinrichs. “I think that’s something that Howie and I both share as a common interest is just an organic healthier lifestyle and the idea of encouraging people to live as healthy as possible. We provide a safe happy place for people to be entertained and we want to provide quality food and quality drinks. I personally don’t want to drink a lot of the mass produced stuff that’s out there so if we can support the BC microbrews we’re bringing in the Fernie Brewing Company, Philips from Victoria, Tree Brewing Company out of Kelowna and of course the Nelson Brewing Company.”
In addition to the most extensive microbrew list in Nelson, The Royal will be unveiling a new wine list and a large selection of non-alcoholic drinks.
“We’re so proud of Nelson Brewing Company,” said Hinrichs. “They’re constantly supporting us. It’s a great symbiotic relationship. We decided why not offer a variety of microbrews to match the quality of the food in the kitchen. Every plate that is coming out of there is a work of art.”
The Cucina Royale – who creates unique plates of food from handmade veggie burgers to curries – offers a dining experience that isn’t typically expected at a bar.
“Cucina Royale we have a very special thing going,” said Hinrichs. “They put a lot of effort into it and their food speaks for themselves. A lot of people come in and they don’t even care what the show is they just come for dinner. We’re kind of that hybrid of venue, bar and restaurant.”
On Saturday, February 25 Hinrichs and Ross are inviting the community down to The Royal to celebrate their new chapter.
“We’re going to talk about the 100 birthday plan,” said Hinrichs. “We’re going to do a two month celebration from June until August. It’s just unveiling Howie and I as the new operators and owners of The Royal while showing the general shift in our vision. General celebration.”
The open house is also an opportunity for the staff of The Royal to celebrate what they’ve created in their time.
“I think it was the last Reverend Horton Heat show there was a guy that showed up, and elderly gentleman in his 90s, he didn’t stay for the whole show he came in for the opener,” said Hinrichs.
The man sat near the water cooler during the show and proceeded to tell one of the floor staff as a teenager he used to mop the floors of The Royal.
“He said the reason why there are two doors is that they were for different races – there was the black door and the white door,” said Hinrichs. “He was just floored that he could be in here 75 years later and see what it was and the growth that it had come through. Everyone that was working that night was pretty moved, to know what we had been a part of. It’s not just a business where we throw parties, and have good food and beer, there is a lot of history here.”
The Royal’s open house starts at 9 p.m. and The Man in Havana will be providing live music.