Many a musical act has graced the stage at Whistler’s Alpine Café in its more than 20-year history—but none more famous than Gene Simmons.
The KISS frontman and part-time Whistler resident delighted patrons back in 2020, when he joined a local band for a jam on the Alpine Café patio.
The longstanding neighbourhood fan favourite was closed for a spell for renovations, but reopened its doors on Dec. 28—and the musicians are already lining up to take the stage.
“The music program, run by Cat, is already booking ahead, and people can expect performances once or twice a week,” said Kevin Wood, who co-owns Alpine Café with Martini Bart.
“In addition to local musicians such as Don, KostaMan and Monty, the cafe will once again be a great place to see and purchase work from local artists as we throw the invitation out to talented locals wishing to display and exhibit.”
The new-look café opened to a “fantastic response from the local community,” Wood said, adding the change was “long overdue.”
The original Alpine Café building opened in 1986, when it was operated by Harry McKeever as McKeever’s General Store and Dirty Harry’s (a laundromat).
Both business and building sold in 1996, and rebranded as Alpine Meadows Market.
In February 2003, Wood and Bart opened Gone Alpine Café in the space in partnership with Bob Lorriman.
Lorriman sold his interests in 2004, after which Gone Alpine was renamed Alpine Café. Wood and Bart subsequently purchased the market portion of the building in 2012.
But with the opening of the Your Independent Grocer and Green Lake Station in Rainbow in recent years, the market aspect of the café proved redundant, Wood said.
“What was really needed was more seating for the café and a more spacious hub for the neighbourhood to gather, celebrate, eat, drink and commune,” he said. “A community needs its centre, where people can come together, and that is the vision behind this expansion.”
The new-look Alpine Café does maintain some retail—such as hot and cold grab-and-go options, and convenience essentials such as milk, eggs and bread—as well as takeout options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“All this comes with the offer of wine, spirits and cocktails, plus five draft beer and cider options on tap to choose from,” Wood said. “The café has retained much of the old menu, and daily specials are a feature that are posted weekly on social media. The kitchen team are hoping to add in more dishes and old favourites once they find their feet in the new space and get back up to speed.”
One of the biggest challenges Wood and Bart faced was retaining the cosy, welcoming feel the café is known for—essentially trying to maintain and recreate that vibe in a bigger space.
“Based on the first weeks of feedback, we have achieved that,” Wood said. “There’s no doubt the space needed some TLC, and required some upgrading to meet new building codes. The benefits people can expect to see are inside toilets—finally, after 20 years of trailing round the back of the building—that and a fabulous new heating system that means you don’t have to wear your puffy jacket to dine anymore!”
While Wood and Bart maintain ownership, Wood lauded the café’s “fantastic” managing team as well: Cat Montague, Julie-Anne Roy, and new kitchen manager Ethan Baguley.
“We are really happy with our new space and can’t wait to welcome everyone in,” he said.
“We are already getting booking requests from locals for everything from pre-wedding dinners and birthday parties to event requests from local community groups. It’s an exciting time. See you in the Alpine.”
Read more at alpinecafe.ca.