After eight decades of serving homemade comfort food to residents of Coquitlam and New Westminster, the French Quarter Pub in Maillardville is closing its doors.
According to co-owner Tammy Wong, the family is looking to retire from the food and beverage industry and has sold the pub to a new, younger owner.
"The new owners will give it the attention that it needs - and will reflect a continuation of the values that [we] cherish without compromising quality," said Wong, adding that the change is a positive thing for the community.
She noted the building will continue be operate as a neighbourhood pub, but with a much-needed face lift.
The French Quarter originally opened in the 1930s to accommodate workers from the nearby Fraser Mills on the north bank of the Fraser River, and after decades of serving up food to people from all walks of life, has left an everlasting mark on the neighbouring French community.
"This place is like most pubs that have been around for a long time," said Keith Bale, the pub manager who has worked there for the past 12 years. "You create a bond with the regulars who have been coming here over the years and with the staff and you do become a family."
While making a name for itself by serving up comfort food from old family recipes, the French Quarter, formerly known as the Jubilee Hotel, was known as a home away from home for many Maillardville residents.
"We have customers whose dads used to come here. For a lot of older people, it's a second home to them. All pubs are like that in any community," Bale said. "They come in here [because] this is where their friends come."
Over the years, as Maillardville developed from a distinctly French neighbourhood to an urbanized community, the pub faced the inevitable challenge of adapting to the demands of the changing neighbourhood, while remaining true to its roots.
"The whole area is changing - it's one of the last places that you didn't see developments. But now you're starting to see [them]. We've modernized over the years, but tried to keep the French flare," he said.
Al Boire, president of the Maillardville Residents Association, was disappointed to learn of the pub's closure.
"I'm not too surprised given that you have two pubs side by side, offering more or less the same services, but it has been there for a long time. In that sense it is surprising and disappointing," he said, adding the pub is a casualty of the declining French culture in the area.
"There has been a gradual decline over the decades of French businesses in the area," said Boire. "I think that with careful attention, which is being applied by the city and stakeholder groups, [we] can still encourage a renewal [of Maillardville]."
Bale, who said current employees may be able to reapply for their old jobs, remains adamant the pub's closure will not impact Maillardville's reputation as a distinctly French community.
"Maillardville will always be Maillardville. There's a lot of history in the area. There will always be French ties around here, no matter what," he said. "Every community needs an identity."
The pub in its current form will serve up its last plate on July 31.
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