Cork and Bone a homecoming for Slugoski

October 19, 2019, 5:53 am
Kevin Weedmark

Jarrod Slugoski is excited about opening his new restaurant, Cork and Bone, in Moosomin.

After a couple of decades spent working in the food service industry in Western Canada, Jarrod Slugoski has come home to Moosomin to set up his own restaurant.

Cork and Bone is located on Broadway Avenue in Moosomin, at the former site of the Korner Kafe.

Slugoski had been working at Walliser Stube, a Swiss-German themed restaurant at the Chateau Lake Louise.

He said the idea for Cork and Bone came up when he was visiting family in Moosomin and realized that many people head out of town for meals, to places like Maryfield, Kenosee, and Virden, and thought Moosomin could use another dining option.

“I didn’t realize at the time, but I was kind of moving toward the end of my time in Lake Louise and I was starting to want to move on,” he says.

“I’ve always had a plan of moving forward and taking what I’ve learned, and what I’ve earned, from Lake Louise. Walliser Stube was an interesting restaurant, the menu would change as different chefs came through, but it was a lot of veal chop, schnitzel, chateaubriand, cheese fondue, chocolate fondue. It was a unique restaurant and everyone staying at the hotel wanted to come there.

“I worked my way into that restaurant. I was working on a team that had 75 years of Fairmont experience. It was a really great learning experience. But being a single dad with Oliver, and being 11 hours from family and friends, it got to be a lot.”

He decided Moosomin would be a great place to set up a restaurant and started looking into it. He was looking at another restaurant in Moosomin when the Korner Kafe came up for sale.

“As soon as I walked in, I saw what it is now. I knew exactly what I wanted to do in there.

“I went to Community Futures Sunrise. Upon talking to them, I realized I wouldn’t have to work with a bank for financing, I just needed to work with them, and that was great, because they are very community minded. They don’t have the same rules and restrictions and scariness that comes with taking out funding from a bank.

“I’m so happy I got together with them. They have been very kind, and they understand where I’m coming from. They like my business plan and they could see my vision, and they see it as an opportunity to put something like this into Moosomin. At the end of the day, it’s all about building the community.

“While we were waiting for financing and waiting for a designer, my Mom and I were talking about what we wanted to do inside, and we ended up doing the work ourselves, which in my opinion is the best thing that could have happened, because I built a wonderful working friendship/relationship with my Mom. I’ve learned more about my brother, and moved from being a brother to being a friend, and having a new relationship with my Dad and Yvonne. Once you’re an adult you develop a new relationship with your parents. It’s been great to be close to family again.

“My friend and partner Joel Sopp has been doing a great job with the marketing. My friends and family all contributed something toward making the restaurant what it is now.

“Your work with the community, building the community was a really big selling point for me to move back to Moosomin. I saw the shop local campaign in the Spectator where you had all the local businesses and how many jobs they add to the community. That really impressed me. That’s what it’s all about. That community focus is what I remember as a child and I want to give that to my son too. I just happen to have a skill set that allows me to open up a business and be part of this community. And maybe that’s why I was so welcomed when I came back, people are always reminded here how important local businesses are.”

Plans in the works since 2017
Slugoski started working on the plan for the restaurant in late 2017.

“It’s exciting to be starting this. I’ve always had the idea of doing this. I didn’t want to do this for someone else forever. You get to a point where you have to move on to your own ideals and how you want to present the model of service to someone.

“There were positive and negatives in my life that led to this decision, but this is absolutely the best decision I’ve made in my life. For Oliver, it’s great. He gets to be around his grandparents any day he wants now. He’s just thriving, being in a community where everyone knows him.”

Moving back to Moosomin hasn’t been a big adjustment.

“I lived on a mountaintop, so driving to Brandon is the same distance as driving from Lake Louise to Canmore. If I drive to Virden, that’s like driving to Banff. Driving to Regina is like driving to Calgary. And actually I timed it—for me to walk from my place where I’m living on Broadway to the door is the exact same amount of time it took me to walk from my apartment to my place of business at Lake Louise.

“I’m a little nervous. I think there has been a massive build up of expectation. We want to do a very good job, but I’m wondering what people’s expectations are. Everyone thinks of it as a fine dining restaurant. It may feel like that, but people think of that as expensive. It’s not meant to be expensive, it’s meant to be experience dining, which is the evolution of dining now. People are savvy, people have travelled, you have a lot of smart diners out there, so it puts a lot of pressure to meet those expectations. People seem to be excited about our restaurant, there’s a bit of a buzz, so that’s good to see.”

Staff in place
Slugoski has his team in place for Cork and Bone. “I have my whole team in place now. Rod, our chef, was working in Waskeseiu, and looked like a good fit. Brad is the second in command, he lives in Whitewood. Charlie is a dad with two kids. He was a manager of the Jollibee chain. As a happy accident, the staff is very diverse and everyone has a good skill set to bring to the table.”

Slugoski said he learned a lot in the process of opening the restaurant.

“Everything came together. I went into it being very naive in terms of how much time it takes to get things completed, and how one thing leads to other things. For example I decided to raise the drop ceiling to give the room more height, but then there’s a lot of wiring and stuff under there that needs to be cleaned up, so everything took a little longer than we expected. I learned a lot as we got things set up.”

Hopes for restaurant
What are Slugoski’s hopes for the restaurant? “I want to educate people that an evening of food and beverage can be just as much fun as going out and having a couple of drinks with your friends, or going out and having late-night coffee. I’m just offering another alternative. I think people will be happy to have an alternative place to go and have dinner. Dining doesn’t have to be formal anymore, it’s more about getting together with people and enjoying yourselves.

“I’m happy to be able to provide another option for people. If this is going to be the town that grows over the next 25 years, I just want to be part of it.”

He said he has had a warm welcome back to the community.

“Moosomin is so open to new things. It’s fun to see the way the town has expanded. It’s pretty liberal in the way it has opened its arms to so many new things. Everyone I’ve met and talked to has been very positive and wants me to succeed,” he says. “People seem to want to be part of what I’m doing. It’s still a little surreal seeing people again after so long. I’ve taken Oliver around and shown him a few of the places I used to go, and the things I used to do when I was growing up—it’s nice to be able to do that. I get a rush of nostalgia when I walk into a place like the Moosehead, because I used to spend a lot of my summers there, and walking back into the high school.”

He said setting up the new business has been an amazing experience. “I never thought I would be a painter and a contractor and a carpenter, but it was nice to see how everything came together,” he says.

The menu will feature locally sourced ingredients.

“It’s a smaller menu and it’s based on what’s available from Fletcher’s because they are just beginning their commercial offering. For the people of Moosomin, they will be able to come often and see that the menu is always changing and evolving.

“I like the idea of the menu always changing because people won’t just have their two or three favorites and that’s it—they will always have new things to try. If my kitchen is as engaged as I hope they will be, I want to offer three-course meal offerings on weekends for special events, and special menus.”

The restaurant will feature a wine list that Slugoski hopes will grow over time. Wine tasting events were held to determine what wines are popular locally.

Cork and Bone will be open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner, but will be open weekends for parties and special events. Reservations are recommended.

Slugoski says he considers himself lucky that the opportunity for the restaurant came up and he was able to move home.

“I’m really fortunate, my home town where I grew up, I got lucky and there was an opportunity here. I’m so fortunate.”

Jarrod Slugoski is excited about opening his new restaurant, Cork and Bone, in Moosomin.