So reads the sign outside the Central Saanich restaurant that once housed Sassy’s for more than four decades and now awaits its re-opening as part of the Floyd’s Diner chain that includes outlets in Victoria (James Bay), Saanich (Royal Oak) and Langford.
The chain’s iconic signage and pink colour have already helped the restaurant stand out and if everything goes according to plan, the doors will swing open on Nov. 1, some two months after Sassy’s owner Cole Porter closed the doors on the business bearing the name of his grand-daughter, who had died suddenly in 2011 at the age of 10 of the rare disease hydrocephalus, which sees accumulating fluid put pressure on the brain and spinal cord.
‘“There is always the bureaucracy, all the little things that have to come together, liquor licensing, business licence, making sure that Central Saanich is happy with the renos we have done,” said Michelle Boyd, manager of operations for Floyd’s Diner. “They are all in play and that is what we will make or break that Nov. 1 date.”
Regardless of whether the business makes that Nov. 1 goal, Boyd said staff cannot wait to serve Central Saanich. The newest location means Floyd’s Diner will have a presence in all major regions of Greater Victoria.
Boyd said owner Petr Prusa sees the former Sassy’s site as a great opportunity for Floyd’s to establish itself in Central Saanich. “It’s full of life, it’s full of lots of families, it’s (near) Butchart Gardens, and it’s an under-served area as far as restaurants are concerned,” said Boyd. “So we were just really excited to have this opportunity.”
Boyd said earlier that Prusa did not purchase the brand Sassy’s but is rather leasing the space for an initial term of five years.
The restaurant will operate on a lot slated for re-development. Plans call for a three-floor building with 12 short-term rental units, 20 long-term ones, live-work units for local artisans and producers and a commercial space for a restaurant, market and cafe. Residential units would face West Saanich Road, while the commercial area and short-term accommodation would look out onto Keating Cross Road.
While many more steps lie ahead before this proposed project were to break ground, Boyd said current plans call for the restaurant to remain. In other words, the initial five-year-lease is a prelude to a longer stay.
“We are confident that we are here for a long time,” said Boyd.
The focus for now lies on getting the restaurant ready as the new pink paint job on the outside also signals significant changes on the inside. Workers have already gutted the kitchen, re-done the floor and installed new art. But the new ownership also plans to connect the new business to its predecessor. “There will definitely an ode to Sassy’s in some capacity,” said Boyd. “We haven’t finalized yet what that will be.”
Residents may also see some familiar faces working at the restaurant. “I think we are going to see a little army of (old employees),” she said. “Hopefully, they will like the Floyd model. It will be different and I hope they enjoy it as much as they enjoyed Sassy’s.”
The business will operate from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. “It (this model) offers such a great opportunity for employees to go home at night,” said Boyd. “We really strive to hold on to long-time employees, happy employees.”
She said earlier that current plans call for 25 mainly full-time employees with numbers liable to change in response to demand. Ultimately, Boyd said the business cannot wait to get started in Central Saanich in expressing hope that the public will embrace the new arrival.
“It’s going to take a while,” she said. “Sassy’s left a pretty big dent. They have been here for 40 years. So we got our work cut out for us, but we hope that we can be in running along Sassy’s. We are happy to be here.”
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