A well-known pub along Highway 97, at Gallagher Lake just outside of Oliver, B.C., has been closed for several months.
The former lease owner says an insurance battle that followed a kitchen fire was what led to the closure and he has a warning for other business owners.
The Ye Olde Welcome Inn has been around since about 1959 and the former lease owner says it hadn’t closed its doors until January of this year.
“I owned a nice little pub at Gallagher Lake. Now nobody is running it. It’s closed. That affects the whole community, not just me,” said former lease owner of the Ye Olde Welcome Pub, Mike Whittaker.
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After taking over the lease, Whittaker says he put three months’ worth of work and $100,000 into the pub before opening up again. He battled through circumstances out of his control including forest fires and the pandemic, eventually leading to the closure.
However, the final straw has been an insurance battle sparked by a kitchen fire last August.
“It was just a range fire. We put it out quickly, but the dry chem got everywhere. It was six weeks of cleaning to get it so we could reopen. But of course, we didn’t have a range,” Whittaker said.
When the former owner contacted a supplier for a new range, he says the insurance company wouldn’t pay for the nearly $20,000 appliance, only promising reimbursement if he bought it. And when he ordered it, he was told it would not come until March.
“We could not continue trying to stay open with no stove. We spent $4,000 of our own money buying a charcoal or a charbroiler which we had to pay for. They finally reimbursed us for that but during that period of time, very little in the way of financial assistance,” Whittaker said.
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Whittaker says even while they had no money coming in due to the closure, they had to pay thousands of dollars a month in overhead fees. When he did hear from the insurance company, he was disappointed.
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“We finally got a check for $14,000 from the insurance company which didn’t even cover my mortgage payments for that period of time. We just decided we can’t carry on. It hurt,” Whittaker said.
He wants other business owners to pay close attention to their business protection insurance.
“They should check every single dotted I, crossed T, and their insurance. I was insured for business interruption insurance, which was to cover my overhead if I was closed for any period of time.”
Whittaker says he is in the process of bringing legal action against the insurance company.
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The toughest parts for Whittaker is knowing that his employees are out of a job and that the community of Gallagher Lake has lost a local staple.
“I have to drive past every day on my way home and see that closed sign. And remember all the great times we had and the amount of money we donated back to this community. You know, this was an important part of the community,” he said.
It’s unclear what is next for the Ye Old Welcome Inn property or even if the pub will reopen under new owners.
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