The space that used to house the Rock Trout Café is set to rise again.
The downtown eating establishment and evening entertainment venue has gone through two iterations, one owned by Susan and Paul Luedtke, and the second owned by its chef, Krishna Tamang.
The Luedtkes closed their doors in February of 2017, while Tamang reopened the location in May under the same name but with a revamped menu. The restaurant’s second iteration closed earlier this year. But the space won’t be empty for long.
As early as next week, diners will once again fill the space. But it won’t be known as the Rock Trout Café.
“It’s going to be called the Tartan Table,” said Lana Kerr. She and her husband Niall are moving their operation into the downtown location. They have been the operators of Signature 22 at the Ramada for a while. That location will close after Sept. 29, and the Kerrs, their staff and some of their menu will relocate to 903 Central Ave. They plan to have a soft opening Tuesday for family and friends, and hope to be open by Wednesday for lunch.
The name Tartan Table was inspired by the pair’s Scottish heritage, and it’s not the only thing with Scottish roots.
“Most of the stuff we have on the menu now is going to stay,” Niall, the chef, said.
That includes Haggis, a Scottish staple. A few more British-inspired dishes might be added to the menu to round out his returning favourites. They’ll also be celebrating Robbie Burns Day in January.
“We have to be approachable,” Lana added.
“We kind of have a reputation of being a little more fancy-schmancy up here. We’re really not, but we’re going to try to be a bit more approachable.”
Lana said the music nights will certainly continue.
“(Music) is a huge part of our family. Niall was a drummer for 20 years. We met in a band. I was a singer, he was the drummer.”
That tradition has continued with their son, Zachary, who plays drums in a number of Prince Albert acts.
The decision to move to the new space was made in part because of what the location offers.
“We’ve always liked … and to be honest, been kind of jealous of that space. It’s beautiful,” Lana said. “We were just looking for a fresh start. It’s a space that has so many hats, and you can really play to that.”
Ward 3 Coun. and downtown businessman Evert Botha was a big supporter of the location when it was the Rock Trout. He’s pleased someone else will make good use of that space.
“I think I can speak on behalf of a lot of the residents who are excited,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to seeing the new restaurant open up.
The Kerrs are confident they have the recipe to make the location a success, even after their pair of predecessors were forced to close the doors.
Food, service, safety and parking are the four concerns the Kerrs have heard about. While they feel they have the food and service aspect down, the other two they want to work on as well. They know it can’t be done alone.
“We’re going to try to be involved in the downtown committee as much as possible, so we can maybe try to solve those issues,” Lana said.
As for the restaurant, it’s proven in its old location to appeal to its visitors. It boasts a four-star average on Facebook and Trip Advisor, and a 3.3 rating on Zomato.
“You have to listen to people. One of the things you hear about is quick service. It has to be really fast,” Lana said.
That’s especially true of the lunch hour, she continued, where people have to get in and get out.
“We’re definitely going to try to meet that standard.”
Then there’s the food.
“I think Niall’s food just speaks for itself. He’s an amazing chef. I think we’ve got that covered. We’re not perfect, but we try very hard. I think we can meet what people are asking for.”
The restauranteurs are thankful their “really loyal” group of servers and employees are willing to follow them.
“We get compliments on our service,” Lana said. “But I think wherever Niall’s gone, people have followed. Because when you have good food, that’s probably the most important thing.”