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Kelowna  

Minstrel changes hands

The Minstrel Cafe will open its doors Thursday under new management.

Clare Anderson and his wife opened the restaurant just 15 years ago, but his controlling partner chose to sell, and he couldn't get the financing to buy him out.

“It wasn't what I wanted. I had most recently expressed to him that I had spoke with some people who would potentially finance me in the fall, but he was in control and made the decision three weeks ago to sell it,” says Anderson.

“It is not what I wanted, no, but that is business, and it has new rightful owners based on the decision my partner made.”

Anderson first opened the Minstrel's doors on March 15, 2000. After five years in business, the first lease was up and he looked for a partner to help buy the restaurant and the land to keep the business going. That same partner began to sell his Canadian assets several years ago, and the Minstrel was the last piece.

“It all happened very quickly,” says Anderson.

“I am very reflective about it all. We were able to provide a magical spot for young and old alike. Countless weddings, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries, birthdays and celebrations here that have been wonderful to be a part of. And, musically, we have been fortunate that some of the greatest musicians in the world, locally, nationally and internationally have chosen to come through here and given us some amazing evenings of musicality. It has been a real treasure.”

Tuesday night, the Andersons held their final dinner service, inviting all their regulars to come in for one last time. Although there was only one reservation in the book, the restaurant was packed.

“I sent out an email on Monday to our loyal patrons announcing what had transpired, and the response was a little overwhelming,” says Anderson.

“Everybody came in and people from the Mission filled the room last night, and we had a real warm ending to our tenure. I am extremely thankful for the support and patronage we have had for 15 years operating here in Kelowna, and in particular the Mission.”

As for Anderson's future, he plans to spend the rest of the school year coaching his kids' basketball team, spending time with family and then looking for his next venture.

“I am a young 60,” laughs Anderson. “In this business, you don't get a pension, so I won't be retiring soon.”

He will also continue his work with the Skookum Barn Dance Society.

The new owners, Campbell and Anne Stewart, are a father and daughter team who also own the Turtle Bay Pub in Lake Country.  

"We are very excited about taking over the Minstrel. It has a long tradition of great dining, rich surrounds, and of course music," says Anne Stewart who looks forward to the future of the restaurant and their plans going forward.

"Changes will come but they will come carefully, as we have tremendous respect for the elements that have made the Minstrel what it has become," says Stewart. "All of our changes will be targeted at ensuring that people can come to the Minstrel and leave feeling the whole experience was a delight."

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