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Citta' finalizing longer lease

Renovation plan rejected by RMOW but interior will be upgraded



Citta' Bistro is getting another lease on life, as the landlord is negotiating a lease that will allow Citta' to remain in its space in Village Square.

For months the bistro's future has been uncertain. Reports of renovations to its prominent location in Whistler Village have given rise to rumours that another tenant would be coming to claim the space.

Thursday, however, Crystal Lodge and Suites General Manger Bryan Pilbeam confirmed to Pique that Citta' would not be going anywhere, at least for now.

"Burrard (International Holdings), our landlord, we've elected to renew Citta's lease on a month to month basis as the negotiations on a longer lease deal are finalized," he said in an interview. "We're finalizing a new lease and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them."

The worries about Citta's future began last November when the restaurant launched a "Save Citta" campaign in response to the news that its lease would expire in February after a quarter-century at its current location.

It was initially expected that the restaurant would close for substantial renovations that could take months to complete, and it wasn't clear whether Citta' would still be there when it was finished. Pilbeam said at the time that Burrard was in discussions with Citta' but was also talking to other parties about using the space.

Those renovations included putting new wood and granite fixtures in the front of the building and enhancing the front of the restaurant space. Pilbeam promised at the time that the patio would remain.

The renovations were to be part of a revitalization of the Village Square.
But last Thursday the Resort Municipality of Whistler rejected the proposed renovations, Pilbeam said, and now he isn't certain when they'll take place - or precisely what they'll look like.

"The issue with that one was a reasonable expansion and renovation (that was) proposed, that was not supported by the (municipality)," he said. "A substantial renovation won't be undertaken at this time but there is a plan to upgrade the interior of the space to bring the tenancy up to date."

Citta' did nevertheless undergo some renovations to a non-conforming storage space for which the restaurant had a temporary permit under which to operate. That required clearing the restaurant operations including equipment and systems.

"What happened was we did do temporary upgrades that were completed, that allowed them to continue past that date," Pilbeam said. "What Citta' was able to do at the same time is they altered their service model to allow for less on-site storage and refrigeration and operate out of a smaller footprint, which is their space now."

Scott Gadsby, general manager for Citta', couldn't be reached for comment, nor could owner Sonia Bozzi, who lives in Vancouver.

Pilbeam went on to say that Burrard and the Crystal Lodge are intent on signing a new lease but it hasn't yet been finalized.

Citta' has sat at its current location since 1984 when it was opened by Carlo Bozzi. It's a staple of the Whistler Village that advertises itself as the "heart of Whistler." Its clientele have included celebrities such as Rick Mercer, Gene Simmons, Seal and the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.