Complementing the community

Business at Lisa’s Lakeside Bistro is growing fast

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One of Christina Lake’s most dynamic new businesses is Lisa’s Lakeside Bistro, situated in the community’s beautiful new Welcome Centre and open every day. In just five months, business has gone from a gentle jog to a flat-out race to keep up, and owner Lisa Smith is surprised and happy with this result.

“We’re busier than we ever, ever expected to be!” Smith said. “When I started, I’d buy a dozen eggs and a pack of bacon, and now it’s like, ‘Oh good, the egg truck is coming!’ ”

Smith has plenty of experience managing restaurants in Christina Lake and nearby Grand Forks, but the bistro is her first venture into ownership. She said that because there are other tenants and ongoing programs at the Welcome Centre—officially named the Christina Living Arts Centre—she was confident that she could make a go of the bistro.

The Welcome Centre recently celebrated its first anniversary, and having a food outlet is key to increasing repeat traffic to the building. The more traffic there is going through the art gallery and the Christina Lake Stewardship Society, the more traffic goes to the bistro. And if people come to the bistro first, they will check out what else is at the centre. Smith figures there are a few reasons that so many of the visitors to Christina Lake keep coming back to the bistro.

Why it works

“The first thing is, we’re really good at reading the desperate ‘where’s the coffee?’ look on people’s faces when they arrive in the morning,” Smith laughed, “and the staff are happy and helpful.”

Then there is the food—which is fresh and locally sourced, with gluten-free options for those who want them—and music, which Smith loves to have playing all the time. On Thursday evenings, Lisa’s takes the music up a notch, featuring an open mic night at which locals and visitors sing; Smith herself will often perform with her rock band.

Another thing that Smith loves is her stadium-style kitchen. This open design allows her to keep a constant connection with the comings and goings and conversations happening in the bistro—it keeps Smith and her staff in the loop and allows guests a look at the kitchen’s processes.

Reciprocal support

Smith is glad to be employing eight people directly and knows that by buying from local suppliers, she further supports the local economy.

“We buy all our bread at From the Hearth, the Christina Lake organic bakery,” Smith said. “I deal with the local grocery store—The Huckleberry Market—as much as I can; there’s a butcher there. They have been just fabulous. The residents here have been fantastically supportive.”

Smith supports them right back. There’s a fast-food restaurant just up the road from the bistro, so Lisa’s doesn’t sell burgers—except for a special gourmet burger on Friday nights—and there’s no deep fryer at the bistro. For ice cream treats, there are a couple of outlets near the Welcome Centre. If you want fine dining, Lisa’s will direct you to the local golf club.

Seven days per week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Lisa’s Lakeside Bistro is filling a niche that complements what the other restaurants are offering, and business is booming.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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