Fergie’s Cafe, one of the most popular destinations on the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway has reopened. Completing reconstruction that began just over a year ago, this beloved Squamish institution, famed for its riverside setting, wholesome dishes, and unwavering hospitality, is back and the local community has welcomed it with open arms.
A devastating fire in April 2018 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. Sustainability is at the heart of the new Fergie’s—the role that the building would play in its environment was considered in every decision during the design and build. The minimalist look honours the natural beauty that surrounds it and exemplifies quality and longevity.
“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.”
View of Alpha Mountain from Fergie’s new outdoor patio. Darby Magill photo.
Chris Hunter, Architect and Director of Hunter Office Architecture, designed the 1400 sq. ft. cantilevered restaurant to last 100 years and adapt to the seasons. 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 brought to life 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.
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.
Many improvements to the guest experience have been realized in the reconstruction. Considered Design consulted on the landscape, as they have an architectural approach to their work and were able to seamlessly connect the new structure to the grounds and existing buildings. Visitors will now park in a newly expanded lot and walk a cedar pathway under the canopy of trees towards the restaurant. The new entrance exposes beautiful mountain and river views from different corners of the property. 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 but the wait for a table is part of the unique experience at this Pacific Northwest oasis. 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.
The new 10-seat bar at Fergie’s Cafe. Darby Magill photo.
Casual yet professional service is led by the skillful approach of Naomi Aris Horii (Sunwolf Riverside Resort, Brassneck Brewery, Butter on the Endive, Au Petit Chavignol, Campagnolo, Aurora Bistro) while the kitchen is helmed by seasoned chef, Victor Pulleyblank (Dubh Linn Gate, Araxi, Café Medina, Chambar, Blue Water, West, The Pearl). 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. Rob Scope of Homer St. Cafe and Bar, Upstairs at Campagnolo and Pidgin fame was contracted to develop the cocktail program which includes a negroni on tap, variations of the classic caesar as well as pitchers of mimosas, spiked coffees and other warming drinks. 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.
Located at Sunwolf Riverside Resort where the Cheakamus and Cheekye rivers meet, Fergie’s Cafe provides a refuge and gathering space, inviting locals and visitors alike to slow down and reconnect over a relaxed meal. A devastating fire took the original building in April 2018, but from tragedy came an opportunity to design a new kitchen and bar that can meet the growing needs of this popular destination. The minimalist design of the new building honours the natural beauty that surrounds it and exemplifies quality and longevity. Sustainability is the centrepiece of the new Fergie’s—the role that the building would play in its environment was considered in every decision made during the design and build. Dishes are prepared with locally sourced ingredients focusing on house-smoked items, and seasonal produce, complemented by a thoughtful selection of espresso drinks, seasonal craft beers, natural wines and cocktails. This family-owned Sea-to-Sky institution, known for its charming outdoor dining, wholesome food and drink, and unwavering hospitality, serves brunch until 3 p.m. daily year-round (opening hours may change with the season).
Address: 70002 Squamish Valley Rd., Brackendale. B.C.
Media release and image provided by Katharine Manson, Katharine Manson Communications. Feature image: Exterior of the redesigned and rebuilt Fergie’s Cafe in Squamish, B.C. Darby Magill photo.