British Bobby Restaurant proprietor, John St John, stands outside his business in Parksville. The restaurant is set to close on Feb. 13 2021, with John preparing a silent auction for the restaurant’s decor and movie memorabilia. (Mandy Moraes photo)

British Bobby Restaurant proprietor, John St John, stands outside his business in Parksville. The restaurant is set to close on Feb. 13 2021, with John preparing a silent auction for the restaurant’s decor and movie memorabilia. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Parksville’s iconic British Bobby Restaurant falls victim to COVID-19

Owner John St John says business will close on Feb. 13, 2021

An iconic Parksville restaurant has fallen victim to COVID-19.

Proprietor John St John has announced the British Bobby Restaurant, renowned for its fish and chips and other traditional British cuisine, will close on Feb. 13, 2021. A silent auction is underway for anyone wanting to bid on the restaurant’s movie memorabilia or other pieces of Parksville history.

St John said he hopes to make back some of the money invested into the business during the seven years he has owned it, having purchased it from a Canadian couple in 2013.

He said he would’ve liked to received more help from the provincial and federal governments during the pandemic and considers the latest health order enacted earlier this month as the “final dagger” in the restaurant’s back.

“COVID comes in and just pulls the rug out from underneath us. We have become another death due to COVID,” said St John.

READ MORE: Black Sails booty on display at British Bobby in Parksville

The only “real money” he could anticipate making back is from the sale of the memorabilia and decorations. St John doesn’t believe he would “even make a penny back” if he were to attempt to sell kitchen appliances or dining furniture as “no one will be buying restaurant stuff anytime soon.”

The current lease is set to expire at the end of February, and previously St John’s son had plans to take over the business, but he can no longer allow “in good conscience” for his son to take on a “quarter-million-dollar debt for a five-year lease.”

St John said takeout orders have kept his business afloat but he did have to continually dip into savings as the months went on.

“We were always thinking ‘the next day is going to be OK’ and we were always looking down the road. But then two weeks turn into nine months.”

As operating costs are St John’s main concern, he says it can all add up to $25,000 a month, including expenses like heat, rent, power and wages. The British Bobby is capable of seating 75 patrons, but due to current COVID-19 restrictions, St John said they can only seat 33.

“We can no longer warrant the building for a restaurant that size. And it’s not looking any better.”

He initially purchased the British Bobby for approximately $150,000, spent $90,000 on modernizing the kitchen, then invested another $80,000 into developing the second half. In all, St John estimates it came to approximately $300,000.

“And now we can’t even give it away. We lost absolutely everything.”

READ MORE: B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidate John St John, Independent

This time last year, St John said he would’ve never believed this could happen, as he’s always considered British Bobby as a labour of love.

“Putting in 10 hours a day was something I loved to do,” he said.

Detailing the success his business has seen over the last eight years, St John attributes most of it to the fact that they only use quality ingredients for their authentic British dishes and that they’ve always taken pride in providing a “family atmosphere.”

“I bought it (British Bobby) not for the profit but for really a family business.”

Beyond February, he and his wife have “no idea” what’s next for thier family, or business aspirations, since he believes him and his wife are not the “retiring type.” If the future’s horizon looks different, St John said he would love to open another restaurant, once the pandemic has “settled down.” Customers have told him they’re prepared to come back, which makes him believe there “may be another British Bobby down the road.”

As for his silent auction, St John said he would have loved to held an in-person auction, but will instead host the silent one while gathering restrictions are still in place. Those who would like to partake can come to the restaurant, located at #3-1209 Island Highway East in Parksville, during business hours. St John intends to let winners know on Feb. 14 what they’ve won.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

BusinessCoronavirusParksville

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Vandals strike in Parksville, prowler lurks in Nanoose Bay

Oceanside RCMP receive 276 complaints in one-week period

The intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street, where a child was struck and injured in November 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
High-traffic Parksville intersection to get temporary 4-way stop

City staff to monitor effectiveness of traffic-calming measure at Despard and Moilliet

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read