Reimagined as a restaurant, Transit Hotel struggles to open to public

·2 min read
The historic 112-year-old building now displays the new restaurant's logo. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC - image credit)
The historic 112-year-old building now displays the new restaurant's logo. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC - image credit)

For the past year, David Egan and his crew have been working to bring the historic Transit Hotel on Fort Road back to its former glory.

"When we walked around in here it looked like it could be opened again," Egan, a power engineer by trade, said in an interview.

"I mean, it definitely needed a lot of work, but it was really, really appealing."

Since signing a 10-year lease in July 2020, Egan and his co-owner have been putting in that work to re-open the hotel as a smokehouse and barbecue restaurant.

Antiques found in the basement of the 112-year-old building are now displayed proudly on the wall.

The boiler, built in 1903 and carted in by horse and carriage, still keeps the place warm.

Egan wanted to keep the historical touches to marry the old and new.

They were ready to open the doors in December but they're still waiting on the correct permits.

Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC
Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC

"I'm a father and husband. You deal with stress in your life. Right? And this has definitely been difficult. It's been a little worrisome, you know."

Egan said he and his co-owner have been going back and forth with the city for months to get the correct permits and licences to open.

Currently, the smoker for the barbecue is what's holding them up.

Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC
Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC

Egan said all the red tape is slowly draining his accounts.

"You know, it becomes a little bit of a cycle. You pay that. You take more business loans to pay off your current ones. It's not a very comfortable place to be in."

Glenbow Archives/University of Calgary
Glenbow Archives/University of Calgary

In a statement, the city said it is working closely with the Transit Hotel to make sure it's safe for customers.

"As the kitchen is commercial use, professional involvement is required as part of permit application. Particularly in the case of changes to existing buildings or complicated projects, there are multiple steps for the owner or contractor to take," said Becky Machnee, a communications adviser with the City of Edmonton.

"We've been working closely with the developer over the past few months to ensure the correct information has been submitted and the building can be confirmed safe and ready for occupancy," Machnee said.

Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC
Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC

While Egan is frustrated, he is optimistic the business partners can soon share their work with Edmontonians.

"We were really hopeful that we're going to be open up in July. But, you know, the goalposts have kind of changed so many times for us.

"And it's become a bit of a moving target, unfortunately. And as I said, it's really out of our control."

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