It's never too late to reinvent yourself. Just ask Rosie Schimpf, who has run the Boston Pizza in Creekside for the past 11 years with her husband — until she decided she wanted to get back to her culinary roots, opening Rosie's House, a family-style restaurant that specializes in fresh-made comfort food.
"Our franchise agreement came up for renewal... and we ran our own restaurant before we stepped into the franchise, and I just thought, 'You know what? Let's try it again," Schimpf said.
The exuberant restaurateur, who admits she learned all of her skills in the kitchen from her mother, previously ran a deli in small-town Alberta that focused on delivering down-to-Earth, made-in-house fare. It's a model Schimpf is returning to with Rosie's House, which, as the name implies, is meant to make diners feel at home in a relaxed, friendly setting where they can get good food at an affordable price. (Nothing on the menu will be priced over $25.)
"I always wanted to make sure my guests felt welcome and that they didn't feel they were in a Boston Pizza, but in my house," Schimpf said. "I felt the people coming in here we're coming to see me — maybe I'm a little into myself, but you know what I mean. They were coming here because they were coming to visit me and my family — the kids that I work with, and I thought, 'Let's do this again.'"
Rosie's House will offer 15 different pizzas, ranging from the more traditional, like pepperoni and Hawaiian, to the adventurous, like a Caribbean-style pizza made with white sauce, pineapple and spicy chicken. The dough is made in house, and there will also be gluten-friendly options available.
"It's stuff you're going to make in your own kitchen," Schimpf added.
That is, of course, if your home menu includes things like a fiery hot, spicy jambalaya, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, stick-to-your ribs pasta and hearty soups and stews, all made-from-scratch using locally sourced ingredients — a definite shift from Schimpf's years as a franchise owner.
"I don't mean anything bad against Boston Pizza, but when you're running that many stores, you're having something made in one location and shipping it to 350 stores, so you don't always know where everything is coming from," Schimpf said.
"Even with the Boston Pizza, we tried to make it our own and tried to add the love that franchises don't always have, and with more and more of them popping up, it made the decision a little bit easier to go back to the old school and open Rosie's House," she said.
"We're going to try and add that love every opportunity we get."
Adding a little TLC to the food isn't a solo effort either, explained Schimpf, who said her restaurant's menu "is never going to be finalized."
"It's always going to be what the guests want," she said. "If somebody comes in here and goes, 'Wouldn't it be cool to have blank?' — We're going to try and do that."
Keeping Boston Pizza's Creekside location, Schimpf said she doesn't worry about diners overlooking Whistler's original ski-in neighbourhood in favour of the busier village. In fact, with fellow area restaurateurs continually putting out exquisite food, she said Creekside is finally getting the recognition it deserves in Whistler's crowded culinary scene.
"I do believe that there's a lot of focus on the village, but I think if more and more good food places like RD's place (The Red Door Bistro), like this one, like Southside Diner keep popping up, the local people that live here will put the word out that Creekside is where the good food is," Schimpf said. "Creekside is the real side, Creekside is the only side."
Now, Schimpf and her "family" — the only way she describes her staff — are preparing to open their doors to Whistler, with an anticipated opening date of Wednesday, Jan. 27.
"I have a UFC fight on Saturday, so this has to happen by then!" she laughed.
For more information, you can call Rosie's House at 604-932-7070.
Rosie's Beef Stew
1 kg beef (typically outside round)
1 kg carrots cut into 2.5 cm cubes
1 kg potatoes cut into 2.5 cm cubes
Half a large onion cut into 2.5 cm cubes
4 stalks celery, diced
2 parsnips cut into 2.5 cm cubes
60 ml red wine
Half a 796-ml can of diced tomatoes
210 ml fresh-diced tomato
500 ml beef stock
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
In an oven-safe pan or casserole pot sear beef in extra virgin olive oil. Add vegetables and wine. Reduce by half. Add tomatoes and beef stock. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf. Bake in a 400F oven for 2.5 to 3 hours.