In the midst of a global pandemic that has dealt the restaurant industry a deadly blow, far more people are thinking about closing restaurants than opening them.
But, in what he described as “an all-in move”, Cole Byers is taking a chance and opening The Rack Westcoast Bistro in Langford.
Located at the corner of Millstream Road and Treanor Avenue, the casual dining restaurant isn’t officially open yet but Byers said they’re happily providing takeout and serving anyone who happens to wander in.
“My focus is to make sure we’ve worked out all the kinks before opening,” Byers said.
He added they’re hoping this slow and steady approach, combined with thorough market research and a focus on the community, will lead to a successful business despite difficult circumstances.
Byers has also had the advantage of seeing first hand how a restaurant needs to adapt and run under COVID-19 restrictions. He is a co-owner of McRae’s Restaurant in Saanich.
So, when Byers and his business partner and wife, Jasmine Grant, started designing The Rack Bistro, they already had a good idea of how they should lay out the restaurant and set up operations.
Even with 14 years of experience in the industry though, Byers knows this decision is risky. “It’s an all-chips-in move,” he said. “I know if I don’t make it work, I ate it for my family.”
The couple has five children, and Byers said they want The Rack Bistro to be a true “mom and pop shop” — a place where all kinds of community members can go and feel comfortable.
Ranked as the fastest growing community in B.C. in 2019, Langford is an ideal place to launch a new business, Byers said. The only thing he and Grant have found the city is missing is more local businesses.
The couple hopes to fill that void. Byers said he has made it a point to talk to every single person who has walked through their door so far.
“Come in, experience, test it. If it doesn’t work for you, give us feedback. We’re not here to harm, we’re here to provide,” he said.
By practising this humility and openness to feedback, the couple said they believe they can create a space where people “feel safe going out.”
Byers said they’re hoping to officially launch The Rack Bistro in November. Until then, they are still more than happy to welcome in anyone who walks through their door.
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