Penticton celebrates the eateries that opened in 2019

Class of 2019 eateries

"Be A Tourist in Your Own Town” is a 10-part collaboration between Castanet and Travel Penticton, highlighting ways to enjoy the city. Watch for it every Monday morning.

The year 2019 saw the opening of several upscale restaurants, coffee shops and a brewery which elevated Penticton’s already exciting food and drink scene.

Wayne and Freda coffee shop, Black Antler, Elma Turkish eatery, Seis Cielo coffee, Pizzeria Tratto, Corleone's Pizzeria and Slackwater Brewing are just some of the “Class of 2019” that locals and visitors alike fell in love with since they opened their doors.

But just as these new food and drink suppliers were becoming the fabric of our local hospitality scene, COVID-19 made them all rise to a new challenge.

It was summer 2019, when Liam Peyton and his wife Kelsey opened the doors to Slackwater Brewery, transforming the iconic Mule night club into a two-storey hub for fun times, live music and award-winning beer and food made in-house.

“The venue has certainly evolved over the last year. The live music was always on the plan, making sure we built a stage and continued the entertainment heritage of this building,” said Peyton. “The party vibe kind of built itself.”

“We are hoping restrictions loosen up later in the summer as Friday and Saturday nights in the mezzanine used to be pretty darn awesome.”

But then the pandemic struck

“It’s a little bit of an extra sore point for me. I've been working in pubs or bars since I was 16 back in the UK, and being of Irish heritage I was so looking forward to hosting my own St Patrick’s Day celebration in my own venue,” he said.

“It was pretty disheartening at 3 p.m. on St Patrick's Day, just as I was about to tap a specially made cask of Jameson Whiskey barrel-aged Irish Stout [that we had to close.]”

But Peyton and his team quickly pivoted, finding ways to bring Slackwater beer and food to people’s homes instead.

“We thought, ‘what would make a beer delivery even better? Grill ready meats and treats. We also partnered with our good friends at Poplar Grove Cheese, because who doesn't like beer and cheese!”

They also became reliant on a device called the ‘can seamer’ that they have lovingly named ‘Bonnie Henry.’

“Bonnie allowed us to can beer off our draught system, giving us multiple benefits; keeping the draught flowing so we could avoid spoilage, keeping us busy filling lots of cans, one at a time, by hand, and to get our guests the freshest beer we could.”

Recently, Slackwater re-opened its doors to the public again.

So what does a visit to Slackwater look like now?

“You know what, it looks better. The venue is spaced out, comfortable, and easy to navigate. We're extremely fortunate having the size of the room that we do, and even with 50 per cent capacity, we can still host a lot of good times,” said Peyton. “Looking forward - we're here for you if you want to come for a beer, food and a good time. If you're more comfortable at home, we'll bring the Slackwater experience to you.”

Wayne and Freda coffee shop opened in June 2019 and was an instant success, with this hip vibe that brought a little bit of trendy Vancouver combined with Penticton’s beach lifestyle to the downtown. It’s located just a short walk to Okanagan Lake, and in a great corridor that is also home to Bad Tattoo Brewery and Black Antler restaurant.

Wayne and Freda is the creation of husband and wife team Ryan and Jen Hawk.

“A lot of heart, soul and hard work went into building and designing this shop. W&F is named after our grandparents and was spurred out of a love of human connection, great coffee and delicious food,” said Jen.

Once an auto detail shop, the coffee shop is open and airy, with lots of patio space and the signature coffee bar which is actually a 100-year-old piece of wood on permanent loan from the Summerland Museum. It’s an anchor piece and a testament to this great community, Jen said.

They wanted to create a community hub, offering fresh, locally inspired food and great coffee from family roasters Tug 6.

When COVID-19 cases started appearing in B.C., Jen said it was a quick decision to close up shop.

“Wayne and Freda are the inspiration behind our shop - our grandparents serve as a consistent source of inspiration. We couldn't do anything to compromise that kind of connection for someone else. So for us personally, closing completely for that time was the right thing to do.”

But with the provincial health officer giving the green light to safely open to the public again, Jen and Ryan felt they could safely welcome customers back.

“The health and safety of our team and our customers comes first. We are lucky to have been able to extend our outdoor space and we now have even more socially distanced seating outdoors - which our customers are really liking,” said Jen.

“Our hope for the future is togetherness and health. I think this time has provided a lot of us with self reflection and has made things that are important that much more clear,” Jen said. “We so believe in  connecting with people and  spreading joy to each other. Our way of contributing to this belief was building W&F as a space to do this over food and coffee.”

Black Antler restaurant also has an extra large street-side patio. They re-opened less than two weeks ago.

“Our guests have been enjoying getting back on our patio. It’s nice to have that fun vibe back with people,” said Lynn Pepin who owns Black Antler with husband Dan Prokosh.

Black Antler pays homage to craft cocktails and fun food to make their restaurant such a success. Offering a free pound of wings with the purchase of a cocktail during happy hour has been a hit since the beginning, said Pepin. Like flights of wine, beer or cider, Black Antler offers flights of cocktails. They now have boozy freezies just in time for summer.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the liquor laws continue and you could take our boozy freezie and some food to the beach?” she said.

When they had to briefly close down, it was emotional, said Pepin.

“We were delayed from opening last year, so we missed most of the summer and then we were hit with this and we thought, ‘Are we going to miss another summer?’”

But since re-opening nearly two weeks ago, the community has thrown its support behind Black Antler.

“We are following all the WorkSafe BC protocols. But our goal is to give people a fun atmosphere where they can forget about COVID for an hour or two and just enjoy a good time.”

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