It took more than a year, but the White Spot restaurant is back in operation at the location it has occupied for almost 20 years on Penticton’s Main Street.
And, according to owner Al Mansfield, they are making up for lost time.
“It’s like August long weekend here. It’s unbelievable; some of them (customers) have come in every day since we opened,” said Mansfield. “They miss us and they miss the quality of the food and service and they are liking the new look.”
June 17, 2011 was a devastating day for Mansfield, his staff and the popular restaurant. In the early hours of the morning, a fire began that eventually ripped through the building, gutting it by breakfast time.
Mansfield said then that he would rebuild, and followed through, though he did take the opportunity to update the design of the 18-year-old restaurant.
“It took quite a while for the design part of it and to go through all the hoops and hurdles, said Mansfield, who also operates White Spot franchises in Westbank and Chilliwack. “We got to design it ourselves, and that made a really big difference.
“It’s a modern West Coast look. So we’ve got a high ceiling, warm colours and really nice millwork; the wood work is unbelievable,” he said, adding that they also now have a 30-person meeting room.
“We took about seven bookings in the first couple of days,” said Mansfield. The overall response from customers, he added, far exceeded their expectations.
“I know a lot of people have been waiting for us to reopen,” he said. “We had about 10 come back from our original staff and we hired about 45 additional staff. We’re keeping them all busy.”
The staff, he said, was subject to some intensive training prior to open the doors to the public last weekend. That included not just classroom training, but also bringing in the staff’s families, and workers from the construction crew to give the staff real world experience.
“Then we brought some trainers from Vancouver, including four Red Seal chefs and we have been working them tirelessly, so we got some really good results,” said Mansfield. “It’s a good thing we planned accordingly, so we were ready.”
One of those trainers was clebrity chef Jamie Kennedy.
“He’s one of the top chefs in Canada and we had him here for two weeks,” said Mansfield. “We had a really good time with him, he’s just a wonderful person and a good trainer.”