Yellowknifers anxious to know exactly what is going into the old Coyotes building uptown will have to wait a little while longer.
Mark Henry, whose family built the establishment and still owns the building confirmed it will be a restaurant and lounge but he remained relatively tight-lipped about its name and what it is going to look like inside, He said his family and other local partners will operate the business. He did not want to say who the other partners are. He confirmed the new restaurant will not open this year. He declined to give a proposed opening date. He also would not say how much money has been invested in the project.
“It definitely won’t be a chain restaurant and it won’t be a fried chicken outlet,” Henry said in response to the numerous rumours floating around town. “We’ve completed the design work. We have been working with a Colorado-based restaurant consultant to confirm the restaurant concept. We are moving forward.”
Henry said a general manager from Yellowknife who has worked in the restaurant for years has been hired. He added that they are in the process of hiring local chefs to bring local food fare to the establishment. Henry said there will be three dining areas it total – one with a food primary licence for families. A lounge will a full liquor licence and a third room for private functions. Henry said they have not applied for a liquor permit as of yet, noting than an occupancy licence has to be issued first.
Kasteel Construction and other local contractors have been working on the inside of the building for months, virtually ever since was was badly damaged by a fire in February of 2016 when it was Coyotes Steakhouse. Coyotes has since relocated to Franklin Ave.downtown.
Henry said the new business will also not be a pizza outlet but he expect the menu will include gourmet pizza. He did not rule out serving fried chicken as well but added that the menu has yet to be finalized.
Henry said the new business will not be fine, really high-end dining but added it will not be fast food either.
“We’re still establishing our pricing strategy. We definitely won’t be high-end but we won’t be budget. We’ll have quality food but the prices haven’t been set yet.
Henry said the goal is to provide a restaurant service that he says is not currently offered by the southern chain restaurants in town.
“We have a unique market – a well educated with population with a good disposable income. It isn’t well serviced by the southern chains,” Henry said. “Coyotes is an excellent restaurant but the news restaurant will have a different look, feel and ambiance than Coyotes.”
Henry’s family operated a Dairy Queen, a Mary Brown’s fried chicken outlet and a coffee shop in the building at various times between the mid-1990s until the early 2000s when Coyotes took it over.
He said he wishes he could share more information with the public but does not want to release proposals for the restaurant that have yet to be confirmed. He said the inside of the building is about 90 per cent done.
Henry said he is encouraged by the interest he has seen in the new establishment but not surprised by it.
“I’ve grown up here and I remember opening day at Dairy Queen. I remember we opened the doors at 10 am and we closed them 11 at night. The lineup went out the door the whole time. That’s standard for restaurants opening in town when they are well put together.” Henry said. “Yellowknife seems to have that pend up energy. We feel that.”
Indeed when a new Mary Brown’s fried chicken opened this year up town, Yellowknifers lined up to sample the fried chicken that they had lost when KFC closed down