The popular Fergie’s Café has reopened today. A devastating fire last year in April had forced the restaurant at Sunwolf Riverside Resort to close.
After grieving the loss of Fergie’s, owners Jake and Jess Freese set out to recreate ‘something exceptional’ that would accommodate the growing popularity of their restaurant and resort while preserving its connection to nature and the community.
The establishment is clad in black-stained cedar, framed with steel beams, and accented by rusted plate steel and a splash of the old Fergie’s blue. Elevated above the floodplain on a series of concrete foundation columns, the new restaurant houses a 10-seat indoor bar plus three 2-top wheelchair accessible tables, a 20-seat outdoor patio and a highly functional commercial kitchen conceptualized by renowned kitchen designer, Roger Newton.
The interior was designed by Jaclyn Walker of Occasus Design Studio, who has translated some of the exposed raw materials from the restaurant’s exterior into its indoor decor: black-stained and whitewashed wood and metal are juxtaposed with occasional dashes of colour.
“We wanted the design to emphasize the outdoors and minimize our environmental impact but we had to make that work with the constraints dictated by the property and permitting,’’ explains co-owner Jess Freese.
“Jake and I were determined to use green materials and resources to build and fuel the restaurant, and to protect natural features like our black walnut tree. We prioritized functionality due to the restricted physical footprint we were granted but when we had to elevate the structure to meet building requirements, we found we were able to embrace the glorious views—standing on the deck looking at Mount Alpha or the bald eagles soaring overhead is a magical experience.”
In the winter months, the restaurant offers 50 indoor seats, with guests seated at the sunlit bar boasting panoramic mountain views or gathered around the wood-burning stove in the dining trailer. In the summer, when outdoor seating expands capacity to over 200, the new building will shelter diners seated outdoors at communal tables and couches directly underneath while others can enjoy the view from picnic benches on the lawns.
Visitors will now park in a newly expanded lot and walk a cedar pathway under the canopy of trees towards the restaurant. Operationally, the restaurant has evolved from counter-service to table-service, enhancing the experience and minimizing wait times for food.
A queue can still be anticipated at Fergie’s on busy days and guests are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring their favourite travel mug so they can enjoy a hot beverage and wander the grounds while they wait to receive a text notification that their table is ready.
Dishes are prepared with locally sourced ingredients focusing on seasonal produce, house-smoked items such as their signature potatoes and wild salmon, complemented by a thoughtful selection of espresso drinks, seasonal craft beers, natural wines and cocktails.
While there are plans to expand food offerings and host special events in the future, the menu currently concentrates on brunch served until 3 p.m. daily.