Prince Albert’s Little Red River Park has a new addition: The Knotty Pine Bistro.
This comfort food-style restaurant housed in the Cosmopolitan Lodge opens on Monday. Owner and Chef Barb Lychak said “there’s going to be something on the menu for everybody” — this ranges from the signature Pine Burger on a homemade bun, a variety of wraps, sandwiches and salads, breakfast and a selection for kids.
“We’re going to keep it new; we’re going to keep it fresh,” said Lychak.
The Knotty Pine Bistro also consists of a meeting room ideal for events such as business meetings, weddings or birthdays. Come winter, skiers or tobogganers will be able to warm up in the entryway, which has benches and outlets for charging phones.
“I think it’s going to work out well, I think people are going to be happy when they come in and see the changes. I know there’s been quite a few people that have been looking through the windows,” said Lychak.
The City of Prince Albert awarded the five-year contract for Cosmo Lodge operations after the contract with the Prince Albert Métis Women’s Association expired. Lychak said she submitted the proposal in January, and it was accepted in February.
The city will pay $288,600 over the first four years of the contract, and enter into a profit-sharing agreement with the Knotty Pine in the fifth.
The city’s parks manager, Tim Yeaman, said earlier this year that the Métis Women’s Association did a lot of good at Cosmo Lodge, but the city felt it was time for a new chapter at Little Red.
Lychak has 40 years of experience as a chef in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Running a restaurant at the Cosmo Lodge was “too good of an opportunity to pass up” when her friend Jen Kindzerski proposed the idea.
Kindzerski is the owner and chef of the popular Shananigan’s Bistro on the West Hill, where Lychak has also worked.
She feels The Knotty Pine Bistro will bring a new element to the park, drawing even more people there. The restaurant is in a convenient location for families in Prince Albert and along Highway 55 coming into the city.
“It’s a beautiful park, beautiful facility, the views are amazing and I think it’s going to be a reason to come out to Little Red.”
Lychak also wanted to add a little bit of history to the space.
Beards and Birch – Customer Furniture and Prairie Barn Brothers worked together to build a 10 ft. table made of wood from a demolished barn built in 1910. The barn, located in the Regina area, belonged to Lorne Harle and his family.
“It’s (been) a long time coming,” said Lychak about the restaurant. “People were getting anxious and the response has been overwhelming.”
The Knotty Pine Bistro will also be licensed to serve liquor; however, Lychak said there seemed to be a misconception that they were opening as a lounge or a bar. Instead, she said, her main goal is to provide a venue for Prince Albert and area.
An improved Cosmopolitan Lodge is part of the city’s Little Red River Park Master Plan, which details future plans for the 1,200-acre park.
The document says that the previous contractors have invested a lot towards improving the lodge, but that more is required for the city’s goals of being a destination for locals and visitors.
“I’m excited to be able to take what we’ve been able to do here and actually look at our plan moving forward and see how this is going to impact some of those other projects,” said Yeaman.
Potential improvements outlined in the plan include the better winter walking trails, adding a zip line, developing cultural spaces and establishing a campground without impacting the natural environment.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to see what the true potential of the Cosmo Lodge really is, and I think it’s going to be a great destination place,” said Yeaman.
The Knotty Pine Bistro is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The main restaurant area has a 100-person capacity and the meeting room has a 50-person capacity; however, Lychak said they’ll be following physical distancing guidelines throughout the pandemic.
— with files from Jason Kerr