West Kelowna couple buys Rock Creek Hotel

The new owners are Bonnie Custer and Ivan Carter, who plan to resurrect the hotel and return it to its former glory.

BONNIE CUSTER and IVAN CARTER

When the Rock Creek Hotel closed last September, residents and tourists alike sighed in dismay, as a cultural icon appeared to be lost forever. The former owner had filed for bankruptcy, leaving mortgage holder Community Futures with no option other than to sell the property, which was put on the market for a slashed price of $200,000. Last week, the property went to auction in Penticton, and was sold for $151,300 to a West Kelowna couple.

The new owners of a favourite destination for many thirsty and hungry locals and visitors are Bonnie Custer and Ivan Carter, who plan to resurrect the hotel and return it to its former glory. Custer, a career nurse, and Carter, a drywall specialist, have limited hospitality experience, though are determined to make a go of what has long been Custer’s dream. The couple will be moving into the hotel and running the business themselves, though expect to be hiring area residents for some positions.

“We’ll be renting out our house in West Kelowna and moving into one of the suites upstairs” said Carter. “We really want to make a go of this place. We’re going to clean it up, fix it up and get it going.” The couple are aiming for June 1 as a potential date for the reopening and are looking forward to becoming a big part of the community, both as residents and as business owners.

The liquor license will be either sold to Carter and Custer by previous owner Chris Finlayson, or the new proprietors will apply for a new license, which, the couple say, is a six-week process. The establishment will be licensed as a restaurant.

As for the theme of the revived dining destination, Carter and Custer are, along with the traditional pub fare that the restaurant is best-known for, considering adding a gourmet pizza component to the menu.

The couple are avid motorcyclists and have visited the area on numerous occasions, two of the hundreds of like-minded bikers who make the Rock Creek Hotel a must-stop destination along one of the more popular summer riding routes.

Carter will be hiring local workers to help with the building improvements, including roofing and some major repairs to the building’s west side. The couple’s goal is to engage the community as a whole, including sourcing local produce and meat to serve in the restaurant.

“We want to be part of the community,” said Custer, “and are really looking forward to getting this place up and running again.”