A husband-and-wife restaurateur team have set up shop in Chilliwack and they’re bringing with them years of experience.
Kerry and Claudette Krahn have been married and worked together for many years. Starting out together at the Fraser River Fishing Lodge, later opening Oasis Bistro in Agassiz, and then owning the Hope Golf Club from 2011-2017, the two are now the new owners of the Royal Cafe.
“We weren’t specifically looking for another venture, but the opportunity presented itself,” says Kerry. The Royal Hotel manager heard the Krahns had recently sold Hope Golf Club.
“They were seeking a new operator here and they sought us out,” he said.
The Krahns hit the ground running when they took ownership of the Royal Cafe on May 1. Their first focus was to get food out to the customers and get things rolling.
“We’re going to be doing a more major change in the next month or two — a little bit smaller menu, a little bit more locally sourced, more in-house stuff done as opposed to bringing food in,” says Kerry. “But it takes time to do that. We had to get operational to start, and now we’re starting to incorporate [new menu items].”
The menu change has already slowly started. Over the next four to six weeks, Royal Cafe will be offering a weekly fresh sheet featuring three different entrees and a couple of desserts.
They have a new chef who just moved here from Texas and has brought with him some southern flavours to add to the menu.
“We are going to see what resonates with people with those [fresh sheet] items, and then we’re going to develop a whole new menu basically around that,” says Kerry.
Recent items on the fresh sheet include a house-smoked barbecue beef brisket, southern fried chicken, and a house-made veggie burger with cranberry-onion relish, plus desserts like lemon meringue pie and individual black forest cakes.
“Our long-term goal is to change the menu completely, to source everything locally,” he says.
They get a lot of their food from Meadow Valley Meats, Hofstede’s, Produce Gone Wild, as well as roadside produce stands. Sometimes they even harvest produce from their own garden. Recently Kerry brought in a bunch of garlic scapes and made pesto, plus a roasted garlic scape soup.
They smoke their pulled pork in house using cherrywood. The pulled pork sandwiches are served with homemade pineapple bourbon barbecue sauce and a maple-Dijon slaw.
Their burgers are also big hits. Each one comes topped with a deep-fried pickle.
Taking advantage of our delicious Chilliwack corn, their house soup is a corn chowder.
“As local corn comes available, we’ll use that. We’re going to stockpile a bunch of corn for the winter,” says Kerry.
Other popular menu items include: pacific eggs Benedict with wild smoked salmon and fresh hollandaise sauce, house-made chorizo breakfast skillet with cheese scrambled eggs finished with roasted red pepper sauce and fresh pico de gallo, and the turkey bacon cheddar sandwich.
“Growing up, my mother’s love language was taking care of people through feeding, and I think that’s passed onto me. Making people happy with food is something that thoroughly makes me happy.”
There will be one thing on the new menu come fall that people may want to sink their teeth into — the 50/50 burger. The patty is made with 50 per cent ground beef and 50 per cent ground bacon. Yep. Bacon. It’s comes with a caramelized onion and bacon relish.
“We are excited to be in downtown Chilliwack. We’re excited to bring the food back to our roots,” says Kerry.
The Royal Cafe is located inside the historic Royal Hotel at 45886 Wellington Ave. Hours of operation are Sunday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.