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Food and Drink

Spotting the Quinny



He’s the crazy guy with the fake moustache and huge Mexican sombrero in the ads often found at the bottom of this page, promising free goodies if you spot El Quinny. Make that just plain Quinny, in maybe a top hat, if it’s not Mexican week.

He’s the crazy guy languishing like a bathing beauty across the café countertop, inviting you to enjoy a latte — which, incidentally, was voted tops in town again in this year’s Best of Whistler picks — or the good food/good vibe combo that permeates Behind the Grind.

But Chris Quinlan, owner/operator of aforementioned local institution and the Mountain Hound Lounge, where leather sofas are for the dogs, is also the serious, straight-up guy who contributes huge amounts of time and energy to the community through a variety of venues.

The serious Quinny uses his business to support things he believes in, such as worthy students he gives bursaries to, and another local institution near and dear to his heart, WORCA (Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association).

As well, he’s a Whistler Health Care Foundation board member who is part of the ongoing effort to get a CT scanner for the community, a Chamber of Commerce director and committee member, plus he’s active on four community task forces focused on issues such as healthy living and affordable housing. In his spare time, he’s also run twice for council, all because he wants to “…create something that would allow us all to stay here in Whistler, and keep it real.”

These are not so irreconcilable, these two Chrises, for after all he’s a Gemini, and what some might call a typical Whistler icon, doing what he loves and accomplishing things at the same time.

Chris first hit town in 1991, fresh from his 10-year high school reunion in Nanaimo, turning down an offer leading to law school to come to Whistler instead. This after pursuing a Commerce degree, years working as a faller/logger, topped up with more years in Nanaimo tending bar and managing restaurants.

His choice had everything to do with his hometown’s milieu as mining/fishing/logging/mill town, where you could “…find the same people sitting on the same barstool 20 years later…”, vs. Whistler, a siren’s allure.

“At Whistler you can start fresh, make something happen. You can do whatever you want in this town — it’s like the Wild West all over again,” he says. “If you want to create something, this is the place to do it — you just have to know what you want to do.”