After six years of calling Langford home, Smoken Bones Cookshack owner Ken Hueston is moving his business to downtown Victoria.
Hueston is giving up his Station Avenue location for a spot as an anchor tenant in The Hudson on Douglas Street. The Langford restaurant will close it’s doors Sept. 17 and reopen in Victoria in December.
While Hueston lives on the West Shore, grew up here and graduated from Belmont secondary, he said for his business to thrive he needs to relocate downtown.
Smoken Bones is a “destination restaurant,” he said, and being downtown will make it more accessible for patrons passing by.
In Langford, Hueston came out of the gates strong. Smoken Bones was lauded as one of the top 20 new restaurants in Canada in 2007 by Air Canada’s En Route magazine, and Hueston was named the WestShore Chamber of Commerce’s entrepreneur of the year. The next year the B.C. Chamber of Commerce ranked him as one of the top young entrepreneurs in the province.
While it’s hard to give up his Langford location, he said operating two restaurants wouldn’t be feasible. Leaving about seven years on his current lease, Hueston is signing a 20-year lease for The Hudson.
One deciding factor for Hueston are B.C.’s tougher drinking and driving laws and leading to a decline in business. Prior to the laws coming into effect, he said about 60 per cent of his customers came from downtown. Now he sees about 30 per cent making the trip.
“Now people tend to be more aware and question whether they should have that second beer,” Hueston said.
In the new location, Hueston said his restaurant will be more pedestrian friendly allowing people to feel more comfortable while having a drink and dinner.
While the move will be bittersweet Hueston said “(West Shore residents) are amazing, I wouldn’t be here without them. I am a West Shore boy. My heart is here.
“Just like I say to people in Victoria, I now have to say it to people of the West Shore, it’s only 20 minutes away.”