The Shady Rest

By: Carolyn B. Heller

If you’ve spent time in Qualicum Beach in the past 99 years, you’ve likely stopped into The Shady Rest.

The restaurant, pub, and liquor store that have become a fixture in this Vancouver Island community opened on the town waterfront in 1924, initially as The Shady Rest Hotel. The property’s location overlooking the ocean was a big draw, and owner Thomas Kinkade Jr., who had previously worked as a fisheries officer, began offering guided fishing trips as another way to lure visitors to the island’s eastern shore.

The property remained in the Kinkade family for three generations, until 1985 when current owner Wayne Duncan purchased the business. In the 1990s, Duncan began renovating The Shady into its present-day form, with a restaurant and pub facing the water and a liquor store across the road. His son Tom joined him in the business and now manages the restaurant and pub.

Serving the Community

Liquor store manager Sam De Pape has been with The Shady since 2017, after she relocated from Manitoba to Vancouver Island. A key to The Shady’s longevity, she says, has been offering a diverse range of products that serve the community’s needs. Qualicum Beach residents range from younger working-class families to more affluent retirees, and during the summer months, she estimates, the town’s permanent population of roughly 9,000 quadruples.

To cater to this array of customers, the liquor store carries “value-brand products all the way up to our high-end for people who want to stock their wine cellars,” De Pape explains. Her first concern as manager was to expand the store’s products, building an inventory that now includes more than 500 wines and more than 500 craft and imported beers.

While the store has an entire section dedicated to products from Vancouver Island and across British Columbia, they also stock organic wines, international wines, and fine wines, along with beer, cider, and spirits. They offer regular in-store wine and spirit tastings to help clients discover new styles and brands.

Welcoming and informed customer service is another way that The Shady differentiates itself, De Pape says. “Everybody knows that when you come to The Shady, you’re coming to friendly, outstanding staff.”

Her managers “trust in me and support me, and I carry that on to my staff. We’re all a big family here, and we support each other,” an environment that makes it not only enjoyable to come to work, but she insists, reflects out to the customer.

“Whether you’re in a carwash or a restaurant or a grocery [store], you can tell the second you walk in if the employees aren’t happy. When you walk into our liquor store, people know instantly that the staff like working here.”

Focusing on Training

To help develop her staff’s expertise, De Pape offers product training at monthly staff meetings, focusing, for example, on ciders one month and tequila the next. She welcomes sales reps who offer education for her staff, and she makes sure everyone has access to spec sheets about every product that arrives. She also encourages team members to attend industry events, such as the Vancouver International Wine Festival, to expand their knowledge.

“It’s a daily, weekly, monthly training. There’s always something new to learn.”

De Pape urges her staff to dive deep into the products they most enjoy. “One of my full-time guys is my craft beer expert. And one of my other staff loves ciders, and she focuses on ciders. There’s always somebody who can help you find what you’re looking for. And if that’s not their thing, at least they’ve learned about it, and they can speak to the product.”

De Pape says that she especially values the liquor store’s six full-time employees, because of how difficult staffing has become.

Though the food and beverage side of the business employs roughly 50 people, “the biggest challenge for the restaurant and pub right now is recruitment. Every time you look at any of the job banks, there are 20 other restaurants all hiring for the same positions. Trying to find people who want to work in the hospitality industry is brutal since COVID. It’s flipped the industry upside down.”

Celebrating 100 Years

In 2024, The Shady Rest will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and De Pape says the staff is beginning to plan how to mark the occasion.

“We’re the longest-standing business in Qualicum, so it’s going to be quite a town event.”

Perhaps that’s not surprising. Over the past 99 years, so many Qualicum Beach residents and visitors have come to rest at The Shady Rest.