• Carmen Marie Fabio

Château du Lac fate still up in the air


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Though social media announcements had been made that the Château du Lac would be changing ownership under the ‘Ye Olde Orchard Pub’ banner, the deal fell through leaving the future of the legendary watering hole, and its staff, uncertain.

In an abrupt turn, the recently-announced plan to acquire and add Hudson's landmark bar and hotel, the Château du Lac, to the 'Ye Olde Orchard Pub' banner has been put on temporary – and perhaps permanent – hold.

In an interview conducted June 3, 'Olde Orchard' owner Darryl Grant told The Journal, “We had been looking for a place in Hudson and the deal with the old Cunninghams Pub fell through,” adding the purchase of 'The Chat' would be a good fit to their current family of seven bar/restaurants throughout Quebec.

The renovation plans included the addition of a kitchen open to all ages and a Facebook page titled 'Château Orchard' – also the proposed name of the new establishment – stated it was accepting CVs from interested applicants. The Facebook page has since been removed.

“They've decided not to take over,” current Château owner Rob Gale told The Journal June 10. “I think when they really looked at it, it's a big commitment and investment and we still don't know what the return to 'normal' is going to look like.”

Gale said he was surprised but understands the decision. “No one's been open for three months.”

Without a current government directive on the projected opening date for bars – establishments that don't serve food – bar owners are stuck in a holding pattern.

Though restaurants are set to reopen to sit-down clientele in the next few weeks, the guidelines for bars have still not been announced and Gale speculates it's because the social distancing rules in bars will be harder to enforce.

“We're being penalized most severely in the hospitality industry.”

Even if bars are permitted to reopen, Gale said he isn't sure if normal business operations will continue. “I'd like to open and get cash flow happening but under what conditions? The nature of our business is social gathering, not social distancing.” Gale added there are no guidelines on how to monitor bar patrons until 3 a.m., saying the whole situation is untenable. “It won't be very conducive to relaxing.”

Gale said the COVID-19 virus timing was the factor that derailed the whole process and that, under any other circumstances, the new proprietors would be building the kitchen right now.

As of press time, Darryl Grant did not respond to a request for comment.

If the sale does not go through, Gale said he may have to put the historic building on the market.

“My first priority is not to rent,” he said. “I was hoping someone would take over the project and complete the building the way I had started to restore it and make it a real showpiece.”

When questioned about the chance of it becoming condos Gale said, “If a developer were to buy it, that's a distinct possibility. And that's what I'm trying to avoid.”

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