Recent History – 2004
January 29, 2004 – By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
After many years of running in the red, a longstanding Dawson Creek tradition was forced to close its doors earlier this month.”The biggest reason is that at the start of last year I promised myself and my wife that if we couldn’t pull it together to make evena little bit of money we would have to close it,” said Charles Kux-Kardos, owner of The Alaska Cafe and Diner’s Pub. “It has been very difficult for us.”
Kux-Kardos took over the restaurant in 1972 and has, along with his wife Heidy, worked to create a specialized menu that represents the Peace region.
The doors officially closed on the café after a New Years event. The Dew Drop Inn Pub remains opens and serves lunch as well as offering live musical entertainment.
“We tried to cultivate Peace Country cuisine,” he said about the cafe. “I never felt that the menu or our culinary skill was quite up to snuff. I think the style and service made up for what was lacking.”
The restaurant itself acts as a gallery of Kux-Kardos’ impressive collection of artwork and collectibles. Where it once catered to a large lunchtime crowd, the business has slowed over the years.
“The last few years have been vanity,” he said with a smile. “I just had a feeling that it was such an institution that I couldn’t bear to close it down.”
But the reality of the rising costs of keeping the restaurant operating finally forced Kux-Kardos to re-evaluate the situation.
“I felt so badly about putting people out of work,” he said, adding that the five employees were well aware of the financial situation.
“It has been a painful time.”
Traditionally the restaurant business is a tough one, especially with the growing success of many national chains. The Alaska Café learned that the lure of the quick, cheap bite is hard to compete against.
“People seem to be tending more and more towards fast food,” Kux-Kardos said. “Price-wise it really is extremely difficult to compete against chains like Tim Hortons.”
Although he believes that there is a market in the city for local cuisine, at this point he is not sure he can afford the time or money it would take to make the café workable again.
“I think there is room for a boutiquey specialty restaurant,” he said. “But it takes owners who have to be there to provide the spark for it. That is what separates a good restaurant from a mediocre one.”
As for the future there are a few options that could keep the café alive. “I have talked to Michael French about possibly setting up something with the Northern Lights College Culinary program to set up an intern program,” he said. “Or maybe just remove the wall and expand the bar.”
At the moment the café is available for private functions and will be opening Valentine’s Day. In the end, Kux-Kardos hopes that his famous “deluxe evolutionary” motto will mean a change for the better in the years to come.