“I came here on a holiday in August, went for a three-day hike in the Cape Scott Provincial Park, and then asked where I could get a bite to eat and was shown the Ibis — the rest is history,” said Kevin Foley as he reminisced on the history behind him purchasing the Scarlet Ibis Pub & Restaurant that is located in the logging community of Holberg.
Foley is originally from Regina, Saskatchewan. He started out as a 15-year-old ‘restaurant kid’ who went on to earn degrees in political science and business, and then ended up buying the original cafe he first started working at.
When asked what it was about the North Island that attracted him to moving here, he noted the “landscape and the quietness” was “breathtaking” and “so serene for a flatlander. I’d never come to the island before, Vancouver was as far west as I’d come… I basically fell in love with the island, the quality of life, and the fact that I saw an opportunity to make an honest living doing what I love to do, which is cooking and serving.”
Foley stated the Ibis has a tentative reopening date of March 1, and he pointed out everything on the menu will be homemade and will “concentrate on fresh food and big portions, as that’s kind of what I’m known for. I’ll also be utilizing some of Patricia Gwynne’s (former owner) favourites from over the last 40 years, and then complimenting it with my own cooking, which I’d like tofocus on traditional Vancouver Island fare.”
As for renovations, Foley said they are “keeping the red carpet for now.”
He laughed that he might have to have people sign a petition on whether to keep it or not. “Everyone has an opinion about this red carpet, but everything else is just being re-sanded and re-painted and freshening it back up to its original brilliance — we’re not recreating it into anything different.”
Foley confirmed it will still be called the Scarlet Ibis Pub, mainly because “everybody knows it as that.”
Staff will for the most part be a family affair, with Foley and his brother doing the lion’s share of the work, and he noted he’s excited to get the restaurant reopened because “in Holberg it’s a big fabric of the logging industry, and I look forward to being a part of the community,” adding he wants locals and tourists to know the Ibis will be “a place where people can come in and warm up, get a good cup of coffee and a hot bowl of soup, and it’ll be the Ibis of old and yet the Ibis of new.”