Phyllis Villaver opened Phyllis’s Restaurant and Lounge in Faro on Nov. 20. (Courtesy/Tina Freake)Amy Kenny, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Phyllis Villaver likes a challenge. In fact, she says if the old Legion Hall in Faro had been a turn-key operation, she wouldn’t have wanted to open her new restaurant there.

“That’s just part of who I am,” Villaver says over the phone on Nov. 23, just days after the grand opening of Phyllis’s Restaurant and Lounge. It is the only restaurant in the community.

“I just liked the challenges of what I could turn it into,” she says.

Villaver had some experience with that sort of thing when she began the process of bidding on the building in December 2022. She used to own and operate Faro Studio Hotel and restaurant, but sold it nearly two years ago.

“I mean, after I sold the hotel, I retired,” she says. “Then decided against it after I went through the first winter of retirement and didn’t like it. I got to do something, and the town had this building up for sale.”

“This building” was the old Legion Hall, which shut down in the 1980s.

After Villaver’s proposal for purchase was accepted, she started renovating the building in May 2023. That required cleaning the space, which Villaver describes as having been in “pretty rough shape,” re-drywalling, re-insulating, re-doing the floors, painting and more.

“Everything is basically new inside,” she says.

Tina Freake is a Faro resident. She attended opening day on Nov. 20, when Villaver offered free pizza, fruit and veggies to anyone who came by to look at the new establishment.

“Everybody was so excited,” says Freake. “It’s really nice, you go in and it’s this brand new renovated space.”

Freake says she only saw the inside of the former legion once, as a teenager. Even then, she says it was dark and dated. The renovations have brightened the space, which features chandeliers, two pool tables and a stage for music and karaoke (“[Nov. 25] I’m going to have a karaoke night,” Villaver says).

“It’s really nice to have a building with historical significance to the community revitalized,” Freake says. “There was just so much work done to make the space inviting, bring it up to code and look really good.”

Villaver was involved with the legion while it was operational.

“We had lots of fun in here in the past,” Villaver says. “Lots of memories of people that used to live here back then. It’s a good feeling.”

Freake says she thinks the place will do well, even with a winter opening. She says the population of Faro has only grown since Villaver’s last restaurant was operational. Once spring comes and mine work increases, she thinks there will be a steady stream of diners.

Villaver agrees. She says staffing has proven difficult, as it is in many places, but she currently has a cook, a server and a bartender on staff. And she knows, from years of experience in hospitality, that winter can be slow for business, but she’s prepared for that.

“I’m not too worried about the winter,” she says. “We’ll take what comes and continue on from there.”

The lounge is open from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

By Amy Kenny, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 27, 2023 at 15:18

This item reprinted with permission from   Yukon News   Whitehorse, Yukon
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