A new restaurant in Edmonton’s iconic Transit Hotel is days away from opening.
The historic building on Fort Road and 66 Street closed in 2017 after being part of the area’s fabric since 1908. But in 2019, David Egan and his business partner signed a 20-year lease and began renovations to open a new restaurant inside the building — the Transit Smokehouse & BBQ.
“Obviously, the focus has been on the interior here, but we have long-term ambitions to redevelop this entire building,” Egan said.
The first phase of the renovations is nearly complete: a redevelopment of the main-floor bar into a BBQ smokehouse restaurant, which Egan said is scheduled to open for takeout and delivery by New Year’s Eve.
“We’re excited. It’s finally starting to feel real,” he said.
“It turned into a bit of a labour of love for me, and I think for me, personally, and my family.”
Phase two would include more extensive renovations, such as a new front entrance and a mural on the side of the building, showcasing its rich history.
Stage three would be a revamp of the hotel rooms.
“That’s something that’s going to be incredibly expensive, incredibly labour intensive and a large risk for us,” Egan said.
Egan has been generating community support for the project since purchasing the hotel. He said interest has been high.
“It just showed me there was a pretty sincere buy-in and there was some sort of enthusiasm from the community for us to rejuvenate this space,” he said.
“We’re hoping we can be a catalyst or an anchor this area needs revitalize it.”
There is no question the 112-year-old building needs a great deal of attention.
“Down the road I think we would have to pursue things like the historical designation — which this building is not designated as a historical resource,” Egan said. “We’re not the owners — the owner would have to initiate.”
But both parties would have to prove the business is sustainable before that is to happen.