Chris van der Linden is the owner of Old School Eatery. It opened for business last December. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Old School Eatery talks business

Owner of the newest restaurant explains what it’s like to open a business in Revelstoke

Local entrepreneur says if you plan to open a business in Revelstoke it’s important everyone is on the same page.

“I would meet with everyone involved. I would meet with the building inspector, planner, everybody you need, in one space. Talk about everything. All the engineering and planning,” says Chris van der Linden, owner of the new restaurant Old School Eatery.

Linden wanted to open a restaurant for a long time.

“Everyone in hospitality wants to open a restaurant eventually. We’re all gluttons for punishment,” says Linden with a laugh. Out of all the new types of businesses, restaurants have a higher tendency to fail.

While this is his first eatery, Linden has a long resume. When he was 23-years-old, he owned a night club in Gibson, B.C. Later, he was food and beverage director for Revelstoke Mountain Resort, worked for Mica Heli Skiing for four seasons, and eventually managed Whitworth Chalet.

“As soon as I took that job [Whitworth Chalet] I found this place. It all happened at once.” He finished the season at the Chalet and turned his focus to his new project. He acquired the space last January, but it wasn’t until almost a year later that it opened.

Linden says it wasn’t easy getting his business ready.

The Mountain View School is owned by Gareth Jones, who also runs a distillery in the building. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

“There were many times during this where I went who thought building a restaurant in a hundred-year-old school was a good thing right?”

Linden had to replace everything, such as electrical, plumbing and turn an almost 100-year-old classroom with chalkboards into a dining room and kitchen.

Linden says it was particularly challenging because the space is in a heritage building. As a result, there are restrictions, such as no signage on the outside.

The heritage status also prevented Linden from putting an exhaust fan on the rear of the building, although City council had approved it. In the end, Linden installed a custom fan imported from California for considerably higher costs. Due to the difficulties, Old School Eatery didn’t open until last December, roughly three months later than planned.

“I had staff sitting around for two months waiting for us to open,” says Linden. Regardless, Linden says he’s lucky most of his staff stuck through it.

“I think I got the pick of the crop.” Finding good and reliable staff can be difficult, especially with a shortage of housing.

“If you treat your staff well, they’ll stick around.”

Although opening the business was riddled with difficulties, overall Linden says the City was great to work with.

“Just next time, I’d have everyone in the same room and on the same page.”

When opening a business, Linden says it’s easy to underestimate the costs.

“There are lots of challenges in Revelstoke. I had great trades but everybody in town is so busy. You get them and you try to keep them busy so they’re working but the minute they go it’s hard to get them back.”

Linden says he’s really happy with the work they did.

Old School Eatery is trying to focus on attracting locals. The shoulder seasons in Revelstoke, such as May/June and Oct/Nov, can be slow.

“Who is going to get you through those times? The locals” says Linden.

“I’ve priced the menu with locals in mind.”

For example, wine is $7 a glass and there are $6 beers. Linden tries to offer dishes that other eateries lack, such as fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffles.

“Sure, I want tourists, but locals are customers that return.”

Old School Eatery is at 616 3rd street west.

As a school, it was built in 1914 and closed in 2012.


 

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liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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