September 04, 2014 - 8:30 PM
ASHCROFT - If closing down a family business isn’t hard enough, telling your whole town why you did it is another challenge entirely.
John Douglas took to his Facebook page yesterday to tell his, now former, customers that the Central Cafe in Ashcroft would shut its doors due to poor financial standing.
“Everybody knows me and I tend to speak my mind and I believe in honesty,” Douglas says.
While he agrees it’s uncommon for a business owner to divulge the details of a failed business online, Douglas says it’s better to keep the story straight.
“In a small town, people talk a lot and they go around with rumours that are vastly incorrect... that’s the reason why I did it,” he says.
Douglas and his wife decided to buy the building for the cafe and move from Kamloops to Ashcroft in 2006. The two had never run a restaurant before, but eventually the cafe grew over the years and became a fixture in the village.
“We got it at a fairly decent price but it was an absolute derelict; it was rusty and rotten and horrible,” Douglas says.
After its repair, the cafe offered everything from coffee to a Friday dinner special, which included home-cooked favourites from barbecue ribs and potato salad to meat loaf with seasonal veggies.
In 2012, the restaurant was voted the best restaurant in the Fraser Canyon - Thompson Nicola region.
“It was a feather in our hat... we were absolutely green at this and we didn’t really know what we were doing,” he says. “We could have probably done better financially had we been in the restaurant business all our lives.”
The following is Douglas’ confession on the Central Cafe’s Facebook page:
“It is with great reluctance and indescribable sadness that I must announce that the Central Cafe has permanently closed for business, effective immediately, due to an overwhelming debt load that cannot be serviced with the current amount of business we have experienced of late.
The fault is entirely mine, as two years ago I was duped into accepting a second mortgage by an Ontario firm (which) outright lied to me and stole many thousands of dollars that I could ill-afford to lose. We have been working desperately since then to overcome this situation but the debt has at last outstripped our income, and we have no choice but to close our doors and seek employment locally or perhaps elsewhere if need be.
I would like to thank all our very loyal customers, who have become friends over the years.... We have had many great times here at the Central, times I will not soon forget.
I would like to thank my wife Kelly for the long years of back-breaking work she has performed here, and the amazing works of culinary art she created for you all. Truly Amazing.
A huge thank you to all our staff members, without you guys and gals we couldn't have done what we did for so long. This has been quite an experience for me, and one of the most difficult challenges I have faced in my life.
We first opened almost exactly eight years ago, and since then this endeavour has cost me my marriage, my health, two beautiful Harley-Davidson motorcycles and close to $400,000 in savings and both Kelly's and my own inheritance money. I am immeasurably saddened and deeply ashamed that our long years of hard work here have ended this way.”
The building from 1920 is now available for lease or purchase.
Douglas says he's hoping to "find a younger couple that's full of fire and energy and passion and let them take it over."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014