Whistler residents hold onto your hats: a local legend is returning to town, set to take our dining scene by storm. That's right - Uli's Flipside is back!
The family- and budget-friendly eatery was a popular option with Whistler residents throughout the '90s and early 2000's and after a brief hiatus, the team behind the favourite former hotspot is returning to take over the old Zueskis/Mountain Club location on Main Street.
Now, Uli's (or The Flipside, as some people called it) was slightly before my time, so I caught up with Derek Pasenow, managing partner at the relaunched restaurant, to get a bit of history. As Pasenow explains it, Chef Uli Schnur, a classically-trained German chef who came to B.C. as Umberto Menghi's corporate chef, started his own restaurant in 1992, sharing a space with the Southside Diner (which, at that time, was a daytime-only operation dubbed Southside Deli).
"So that's where the name 'Flipside' came from," Pasenow explained, "It was Southside Flipside at night."
The eatery, which offered generous entrée portions of pasta, a choice of starter salads and unlimited bread for just $9.99, was wildly popular with Whistler residents, many of whom were trying to stretch their minimum wage earnings as far as possible.
"There was no place in town for locals that made $8 an hour - or back then, probably $7 an hour - to go out on sort of a regular basis," Pasenow pointed out.
"There was no real place to go and have a good meal - comfort food, that made you feel like you were eating at your grandmother's house. Everything was made on-site, no sauces were brought in, everything was made from scratch, even the pasta was made from scratch at the time."
After a brief hiatus, Schnur joined forces with Pasenow, and the two moved the restaurant into other locations around Whistler, including the current homes of 21 Steps and Creekbread, before Schnur finally decided it was time to focus on family, closing the beloved local eatery in 2003.
But the legend has lived on.
"Once a week, living here, people would still say, 'Aw, Flipside. Come on!'" Pasenow chuckled.
Now, sensing that Whistler residents are once again looking for good value for their money, Pasenow and Schnur decided that the time was finally right to bring Uli's back. This time, though, it's going to be called The Flipside.
"We figured that the timing is almost the same that it was in '92," Pasenow explained. "There are a lot of great restaurants in Whistler, definitely, and I wouldn't change it for the world because I eat out far more than I eat in, in this town!"
But both men felt that there was something missing on Whistler's dining scene: affordable, family-style food at a good price point. They plan on offering those same large and hearty entrees, with value being one of their central goals. Their kitchen will also be open late at night, just like in the good ol' days, with food served 'til around closing time at 1 a.m.