A rose by any other name just wouldn’t be the same.
Although the new owners of the Country Rose Pub discussed changing the name, they decided to stick with what has worked for so many years at the Colwood establishment they reopened in September. “We gave a lot of thought to changing the name,” explained Joe Cunliffe, who purchased the Country Rose with his girlfriend, Hollis Turbine, and close friends Kirk Stowell and Sheena Lind in August. “The decision came down to respecting the history and tradition.”
Cunliffe, who owns Cafe’ Bliss and Juice Bars and Be Love restaurant in Victoria, said the four had talked about owning a pub for some time, and the Country Rose presented the opportunity they were looking for.
“I like to develop projects that are fun and good for the community,” he said. “When we first saw it, we thought it was this hidden gem. We thought that with some tender loving care, it could be something special.”
The fact that the area along Sooke Road near Royal Roads University and Colwood Corners is undergoing a lot of change and growth factored into the decision. “Colwood is a community that’s really on the up and up,” Cunliffe noted. “It needs food and beverage establishments that reflect the passion of their owners. Kirk and I are huge Seahawks fans, so we’re hoping Seattle fans will join us for NFL games.”
While Cunliffe foresees a flux of young professionals moving into the area, the location was not the deciding factor in the decision to purchase. “I’ve always believed that location is important,” he said. “But if you do something of exceptional quality, the customers will find you.”
Cunliffe said it’s important to maintain the customers former owners Ray and Judy Michaud established during the 32 years they owned the Country Rose. “We want to improve the experience for our existing customers and grow the base. We’re making an effort to continue Judy’s legacy by supporting some of the community initiatives she started.”
The owners spent two weeks plus completing a full repaint, refinishing all of the original mahogany, installing new flooring, and upgrading the kitchen and the washrooms. “We all put in some long days and did a lot of the work ourselves.” They also increased the number of draft lines to the bar from five to a dozen. “We added a number of local craft beers and stuck with.”
The kitchen will focus on making high quality pub food from scratch. “Sheena’s brought a long successful career as a chef to the Country Rose. We’re not trying to be fancy, we’re trying to be really good.”