British Bobby Restaurant proprietor, John St John, stands outside his business in Parksville. The restaurant is set to close on Feb. 13 2021, with John preparing a silent auction for the restaurant’s decor and movie memorabilia. (Mandy Moraes photo)

British Bobby Restaurant proprietor, John St John, stands outside his business in Parksville. The restaurant is set to close on Feb. 13 2021, with John preparing a silent auction for the restaurant’s decor and movie memorabilia. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Vancouver Island’s iconic British Bobby Restaurant falls victim to COVID-19

Owner John St John says Parksville business will close on Feb. 13, 2021

An iconic Parksville restaurant has fallen victim to COVID-19.

Proprietor John St John has announced the British Bobby Restaurant, renowned for its fish and chips and other traditional British cuisine, will close on Feb. 13, 2021. A silent auction is underway for anyone wanting to bid on the restaurant’s movie memorabilia or other pieces of Parksville history.

St John said he hopes to make back some of the money invested into the business during the seven years he has owned it, having purchased it from a Canadian couple in 2013.

He said he would’ve liked to received more help from the provincial and federal governments during the pandemic and considers the latest health order enacted earlier this month as the “final dagger” in the restaurant’s back.

“COVID comes in and just pulls the rug out from underneath us. We have become another death due to COVID,” said St John.

READ MORE: Black Sails booty on display at British Bobby in Parksville

The only “real money” he could anticipate making back is from the sale of the memorabilia and decorations. St John doesn’t believe he would “even make a penny back” if he were to attempt to sell kitchen appliances or dining furniture as “no one will be buying restaurant stuff anytime soon.”

The current lease is set to expire at the end of February, and previously St John’s son had plans to take over the business, but he can no longer allow “in good conscience” for his son to take on a “quarter-million-dollar debt for a five-year lease.”

St John said takeout orders have kept his business afloat but he did have to continually dip into savings as the months went on.

“We were always thinking ‘the next day is going to be OK’ and we were always looking down the road. But then two weeks turn into nine months.”

As operating costs are St John’s main concern, he says it can all add up to $25,000 a month, including expenses like heat, rent, power and wages. The British Bobby is capable of seating 75 patrons, but due to current COVID-19 restrictions, St John said they can only seat 33.

“We can no longer warrant the building for a restaurant that size. And it’s not looking any better.”

He initially purchased the British Bobby for approximately $150,000, spent $90,000 on modernizing the kitchen, then invested another $80,000 into developing the second half. In all, St John estimates it came to approximately $300,000.

“And now we can’t even give it away. We lost absolutely everything.”

READ MORE: B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidate John St John, Independent

This time last year, St John said he would’ve never believed this could happen, as he’s always considered British Bobby as a labour of love.

“Putting in 10 hours a day was something I loved to do,” he said.

Detailing the success his business has seen over the last eight years, St John attributes most of it to the fact that they only use quality ingredients for their authentic British dishes and that they’ve always taken pride in providing a “family atmosphere.”

“I bought it (British Bobby) not for the profit but for really a family business.”

Beyond February, he and his wife have “no idea” what’s next for thier family, or business aspirations, since he believes him and his wife are not the “retiring type.” If the future’s horizon looks different, St John said he would love to open another restaurant, once the pandemic has “settled down.” Customers have told him they’re prepared to come back, which makes him believe there “may be another British Bobby down the road.”

As for his silent auction, St John said he would have loved to held an in-person auction, but will instead host the silent one while gathering restrictions are still in place. Those who would like to partake can come to the restaurant, located at #3-1209 Island Highway East in Parksville, during business hours. St John intends to let winners know on Feb. 14 what they’ve won.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

BusinessCoronavirusParksville

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

(Black Press Media file photo)
Trees Cannabis to reignite downtown Victoria location as licensed store

The dispensary will reopen its 230 Cook St. location on Saturday

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read