While the Dragonboat Pub has been trying to have a soft opening week with just a few Pentictonites wandering in, GM Keith Corbett said they've been busy right from the get-go.
"I think the word is out and people know that we're open now," he said chuckling at a rare empty table at the pub early on Friday night, just a few days in. The atmosphere is energetic as customers drink pints while staring out onto Skaha Lake.
"We started 'practicing' on Wednesday. And you know, the looky-loos that were coming by on Wednesday got to come and get a sense of what the menu was going to be."
The new amenity was proposed and opened for offers in the Skaha Lake Park East Plan by the City of Penticton, which Corbett said he jumped at.
But he wanted to make sure those that were most often in the area would enjoy his idea.
"So it seemed obvious to talk to the dragon boat community," he said. "We spoke to them and said 'What do you think about us coming in here and making a significant investment to kind of improve the way that the area looks, and to give you guys somewhere to go because you're here all the time'...so they were super supportive."
Corbett said it made sense to pay homage to that community.
"There's dragon boat races this weekend so we served some of the dragon boat teams at lunchtime today, which is, in a way an honour. We've named the place after them because this is kind of their home."
The pub wants to capture the local crowds too, hoping to become a neighbourhood favourite for many.
"I think we're gonna be really, really busy. And we just want to serve everybody really, really well in a really authentic way. We're not intending on taking advantage of the tourist influx, I want to make sure that we protect the locals' experience. And that they get recognized and they can identify themselves and they feel like we're here for them. Because this place is for them."
Painted along the walls are Indigenous art and dragon boat murals, all done by local artists.
The pub boasts 24 taps for beer lovers, and a couple of wine and cider options as well.
"We're doing elevated American pub, so super approachable. Everybody knows what it is. But we're doing it really, really well and maybe putting a little bit of a spin on it," Corbett added.
Corbett is partnered with David Prystay, who he was hired by at just 13 years old. Now, 27 years later, the two have rejoined for the pub project after Corbett worked his way up in the hospitality industry, including stints in the Lower Mainland at multiple restaurants, including Score on Davie.
The two reconnected when Corbett came back to Penticton, looking to make it home once again with his family.
"During this whole time, I wanted to always have my own thing. And he knew that about me," Corbett added.
"I really wanted to do something smaller where I can put my own stamp on it. Feel like it's mine. And so when this opportunity came along, and he was interested in having a small piece partner that was gonna really care and take care of the place and make sure that it's what we want it to be — I was all in. "
The pub already has a strong team of 40 working together and will be looking to bring on more as the summer gets busier.
Dragonboat Pub is open now for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.