One kitchen, two visions for the Monkey Tree and Coyote’s
Food returns to Yellowknife’s Monkey Tree Pub this week in an unusual format: it’ll be supplied by the owner of another restaurant, Coyote’s Bistro.
Ed But, owner of Coyote’s Bistro, is taking over what was once the Stake Restaurant area next to the Monkey Tree – and that comes with the kitchen that serves the entire building.
His cooking will now serve both the Monkey Tree and his own ventures.
He says he’s excited to move into the space, especially with his history in that part of town. Until its untimely demise, the original Coyote’s existed where the nearby Copperhouse restaurant now stands.
“I used to be in that neighbourhood, but we had a fire seven years ago,” said But.
“Now I’m back in there, around that neighbourhood, and I’m happy. I’m excited to provide my neighbours with food again.”
The relocation will mean closing Coyote’s Bistro’s current downtown location, a move that But believes is for the best.
“It’s not feasible for me to be downtown. When I had the fire I had nowhere to go, and I was able to get in there in a month and 10 days – so it made sense then,” he explained.
“But it’s served its purpose. The building is just too old and it’s time to move on to something newer.”
But expects the last day of service at the downtown bistro to be January 23. After launching food service to supply the Monkey Tree on Wednesday, he hopes to soon relaunch his takeout and delivery service from the new space.
Eventually, But says he will be opening Coyote’s Family Steakhouse where Stake once was.
“The menu will be what Coyote’s is all about,” he said. “Hearty home-cooked food and, as we progress, a lot more stuff is going tantalize your taste buds.
“It will be nice pub food with great beers from the Monkey Tree. I think that’s a good combination.”
But says he still plans to open a board game café and collectible card shop in the near future, at the other end of the same mall that houses the Monkey Tree. He intends for one kitchen to serve the Monkey Tree, steakhouse and café.
Tree owners see the positives
For Monkey Tree co-owners Jen Vornbrock and Steve Dinham, coming to terms with the transition has required some time.
Late last year, with the prospect of someone else taking over Stake and the kitchen after a deal between But and the building’s landlord, they told Cabin Radio they faced “a very sad moment.”
Now, Vornbrock says they are looking forward to the launch.
“We’ve had six months to process it and now we’re trying to look at it from a positive perspective,” she said on Monday.
“We’re looking forward to having a good relationship with Ed and his team, and I do believe that we’ll be able to execute a menu that our customers will enjoy.”
Vornbrock says Wednesday will bring a small introductory menu with some of the pub-style food that she thinks many Monkey Tree customers are used to, along with new things to try.
She says communication will be key to the restaurant and pub’s successful collaboration.
“We’ve been meeting with Ed weekly and we will continue to do that, especially in the first few weeks of launch,” she said.
“I think things will be different, with different food items and the way that they’re going to choose to run their menu, but we’re hopefully going to sustain our regular lunch features and things that our customers would be used to here.
“Again, it’s just about communicating back and forth and listening to feedback from the customers, because ultimately, they decide.”
Though she was sad about the change at first, Vornbrock now thinks she and Dinham will find themselves with time to try new things – time running a pub and restaurant didn’t previously allow.
“I know there can be some mixed feelings on how people feel about the whole thing,” she said.
“I think if we keep an open mind and give feedback and move forward, it will work. We just need to keep an open mind.”