The Lamplighter Pub has been Elkford’s watering hole for almost 20 years. It’s a well-known spot in town to grab a cold drink after a shift at the mine, visit with friends, or listen to a little live music.
Owners Joey and Laurie Hollowink have been in charge for five years now, and are doing their best to keep the tradition of the pub alive, while changing a few things to make it their own. Formerly a drinks only bar dominated by a younger crowd, the Lamplighter now offers refreshments and food to a more diverse group of customers.
“It’s progressed a lot and we’ve really changed it,” remarked Joey. “It used to be more of a party hall, a crazier young bar. We like the pub effect more, so what that did is instead of having just your young group here, now we have our young and our old customers. They can enjoy it together. It’s definitely a very, very widespread age group.”
Born and raised in Elkford, Joey is a senior foreman at Greenhills Mine, and purchased the Lamplighter with his wife Laurie five years ago. Laurie was already a long-time employee of the pub at the time, and was ready to try on a new role.
“I’ve always had a passion for the bartending part of it, but now I’m also the booking part, and I’ve always enjoyed learning and just doing different things,” she said. “I’m quite sure I’ll continue to expand doing other things, I just like business I guess.”
The first major change the couple made was firing up the kitchen. The Lamplighter now has daily food specials, from Wednesday wing night to Friday fish and chips, and is famous around Elkford for their beef dip. And with a kitchen remodel underway, their food horizons are continuing to expand.
“When the kitchen is done, that will allow us to change up our food a bit. We already strive to have very good quality food, but now we can have a little less deep-frying and a little more cooking,” said Joey. “So we’ll start advertising in Fernie, you know, why not take your wife up here for a nice dinner? We want to try and get more people from out of town up. We have very good support in town, but we need more from Sparwood and Fernie.”
The pub is already using live music as a way to encourage people from all over the Elk Valley to stop in.
“Our biggest thing is what we’re trying to do with the entertainment. We don’t bring in a ton of entertainment, but a little better quality entertainment, rather than just your fly-by bands,” commented Joey. “We bring in big name acts, like Julian Austin is coming in here June 1. He’s a pretty big country star and he comes in every year.”
Joey and Laurie have put a lot of work into the Lamplighter and seen marked improvements in since they took it over. With plans to continue upgrading the building in the future, the couple isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
“It’s cool because you get to meet all kinds of people and because we own it, we get to try new things. We’ve tried lots of different stuff, some failures and some successes. It’s definitely a passion for business that keeps us going,” remarked Joey. “We’re definitely long term residents in town, we bought the pub to own it long term, and it’s starting to turn more into a family business. Our daughter work here, our one daughter helps as assistant manager.
“This is what we’re going to keep doing is keep working it until we’re retired.”