Karen Roland is a Whistler local, and very proud of it.
The owner of Roland’s Creekside Pub and Red Door Bistro has been serving local customers since her arrival in the resort town in 1988 and has always put them first.
She began working in local restaurants after moving from Richmond and ultimately went to work for the legendary Ron “Hoz” Hosner in 1993 at his restaurant and pub.
Eventually, she took over the operation - pub, bistro and liquor store - in 2008, and subsequently renamed it Roland’s.
“I’d worked in banking right out of high school and wanted to experience something different and not be locked into one line of work right away,” Roland says.
“But taking over the business from ‘Hoz’ was no small task,” she says. “I got some help from my dad, and it was a unique opportunity to acquire a pub, restaurant and liquor store in one transaction.
“But it felt like a natural transition,” Roland adds. “I had worked for ‘Hoz’ for 14 and-a-half years, starting as a hostess in the restaurant, worked my way up to a waitress, moved over to the pub as a waitress and bartender, then took on managerial duties and bookkeeping.
“I did pretty much everything but cook in that place. And I knew the good, the bad and ugly about the business.”
Most of all, she understood the importance of remaining committed to local customers.
“Looking after the locals, they are my number one priority 365 days a year, because when the tourists are gone, the locals remain and they come and support us.”
A prime example of Roland's commitment came ahead of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games hosted in Vancouver and Whistler when she was approached to have her establishment turned into a host destination by some of the national teams competing at the games.
“They said they’d like to buy us out for the Olympics, and asked how much do you want? I said no to all of them because I wanted to serve the needs of the locals who knew they could come here and watch the hockey games and everything else.”
She also adds a personal thanks to her local customers each Christmas.
“I bake for them,” she says. “They get bags of goodies at Christmastime.
“I’ve been doing that since the 1990s.”
Roland, her mom and sister-in-law, bake more than 1,000 shortbread cookies, butter tarts and other assorted cookies to fill more than 200 goodie bags they give out to staff and customers to show their appreciation.
“A lot of them ask me, ‘Are you baking again this year?’” she laughs.
“They know I will because I am very lucky to be where I am, with loyal customers and staff.”
For more information about Roland’s Creekside Pub, check out their website at rolandswhistler.com.