Reaching 90 years is an accomplishment for any person, but it's particularly impressive when a business reaches that milestone. So it's no surprise that the Shady Rest Restaurant and Pub is proudly celebrating its nine decades in Qualicum Beach.
"It's the oldest continuously-run business in town," confirmed Wendy Maurer, president of the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society.
According to a history compiled by the Shady (and confirmed by Maurer for The NEWS), Thomas Kinkade Jr. opened the Shady Rest Hotel in 1924 when he saw that Qualicum Beach was becoming a tourist destination. It was one of the first buildings to occupy Qualicum waterfront. Kinkade Jr. then passed on the business 1944 to his son Gerald, who ran it until 1970s when he handed over the reins to his son, Tom Jr. Then, after 61 years of family ownership, current owner Wayne Duncan bought the Shady Rest in 1985.
According to the Shady's current general manager Tom Saunders (who finds it amusing he is yet another Tom at the establishment), Duncan decided to breathe some new life into the business with extensive renovations. After many phases, the Shady came to its current layout — which includes all of the original building and a piece of concrete outside stamped with the initials "T.K." — in 1996.
"We've kept a good thing going," said Saunders. "It's that place you have to come to when in Qualicum Beach."
Many things have drawn customers to the Shady over the years. Besides the pub and the restaurant's clam chowder, Saunders said the establishment has also offered boat rentals, rooms for rent and fishing charters in the past. More recently, the business has focused on using live music, daily food and drink specials and hosting parties for big sports games — like the upcoming Grey Cup— to keep itself relevant.
Then, of course, there’s the ever-present view.
“People remember us for the view,” said pub & restaurant manager Joel Jolicoeur.
According to Maurer, the Shady has shown that “a business can do well here (in Qualicum Beach),” especially when they display “pride of ownership, willingness to update over time and attention to customer service.”
Saunders echoed the latter part of Maurer’s statement, saying the Shady wouldn’t be what it is without its customers. It’s “always been about keeping tourists and locals happy, with locals coming first,” he said.
He also added that this local aspect of the Shady goes beyond the patrons. Today, the business aims to keep dollars in the community by buying ingredients from local farmers, supporting local charities and hiring local people. Locals like Saunders himself, who has worked at the Shady on and off since 1993, and Jolicoeur, who has been there for four years.
“It’s great to be part of the community,” said Jolicoeur. “Makes you feel like you’re a part of something.”
Maurer also said that the simple fact the Shady Rest has been in one place for so many years has made an impact on the town. “The Shady Rest has been a constant in the history of Qualicum Beach and that is important for a community. It has hosted generations of families which helps support family traditions and gives a sense of community stability,” she said.
Dave Halstead, who has been visiting the Shady for over 50 years, can attest to that sentiment. “Three generations (of my family) have drank here, and we have a fourth coming up,” he said. The Shady has also provided Halstead with a lot of memories. He particularly remembered Ozzie’s Chair, a double-wide seat the Shady had made exclusively for a customer with an ample backside sometime in the 70s. “What can I say?” he concluded. “It’s the Shady. It’s history. It’s the best bar in the world.”
The Shady invited everyone to join them in celebrating their ninety years in business all this month with a special menu highlighting popular dishes from throughout the establishment’s history.