If you haven’t already heard there is a new restaurant in the Mountain View School building on third street east, get ready – The Old School Eatery is worth a visit.
Owner Chris van der Linden has worked in hospitality his entire life, he knows the ins and outs of the business.
“I started when I was thirteen as a dishwasher and progressed through being a prep cook, line cook, bartender, manager and general manager and five years I owned a nightclub in Gibsons BC,” he says.
Van der Linden came to Revelstoke with his wife nine years ago. The couple had travelled extensively and lived in various communities. As soon as they arrived in Revelstoke, they knew it was where they wanted to stay. Initially, van der Linden was in charge of the food and beverage department at Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR). Since his time at RMR, he has worked as a lodge manager for Mica Heliskiing and now runs the Whitworth Chalet.
His goal though, was to open a restaurant.
“I had been looking for a space to have a restaurant, or to purchase one, for the past three years,” he says. “My original plan was a proper diner. Revelstoke is an inherently blue collar community, and I wanted to have an American style diner offering home cooking comfort.”
Through his long search, van der Linden couldn’t find a space that made both economic sense and fit his needs. When the right space did open up, everything happened quickly.
“I met Gareth Jones, the landlord of the Mountain View School, and the next thing you know I was planning the restaurant,” van der Linden says.
Mountain View School offered the space he needed, and though the buildings heritage designation created some restrictions, one year later, the Old School Eatery opened its doors.
Gone was the American diner idea. “The building was gutted so I could do whatever I wanted, and it was, for lack of a better word, too sexy to be a diner,” says van der Linden. “I wanted to keep the integrity of the room, rather than break it up into smaller rooms. We kept it open to the ceilings to keep it period; there is so much natural light that we built the entire place around it. There was millwork at the entrance I wanted to bring through the whole space. I was a little worried, I knew how I saw it in my mind, but it all came together.”
When it came to creating a menu and hiring a chef, van der Linden knew it would be his long time friend and old coworker Marty Stacey.
“We always talked about what kind of menu we would have. We had the menu for the Old School Eatery ready months ago,” he says.
The goal was to put a twist on everything.
“It’s what we want to eat. We wanted to cover items missing on other menus. Obviously, certain breakfasts and dinners are staples, but we tried to put our spin on it. The very first item on the menu was chicken and waffles. I always knew I wanted those,” he says.
That southern flare flows through the menus, there is one for each meal of the day, including Louisiana Fish and Chips on the lunch menu and Pan Roasted Catfish or Bayou Bouillabaisse for dinner. Van der Linden has Japanese heritage, and several dishes have an asian influence.
As for the clientele? Van der Linden is aiming for locals.
“Locals are who gets you through the lean times,” he says. “Revelstoke has Revy Fine Dining; the Woolsey, 112, the Quartermaster, those kind of places, and they have pub food. I’m trying to do something in between, something a little more grown up.”
The Old School Eatery has been open under a couple of weeks and, eager to give it a try, I took my ten year old out for breakfast. As a vegetarian, meat free options are always a plus, and the breakfast menu has plenty. The eggs benedict menu lets you mix and match, trying two different kinds if you want. My son chowed down on bacon, toast and juice – annihilating his plate. My Hash Bowl had the tastiest homemade salsa on top and, made with large pan fried potatoes, was surprisingly filling. The first impression was definitely a good one.
Personally, I want to go back for dinner and try the Cavatappi – a healthy looking pasta dish with asparagus, leek, mushroom ragout (and more). I saw my favourite scotch behind the bar, and scotch goes well with everything.
With seating for fifty five and being just off the beaten downtown walking path, it’s worth checking out.