A new life… new restaurant

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Gord Turner writes about some new arrivals who have brought an old business back to life

Have you been looking for a new restaurant to visit for dinner?  It turns out Castlegar is home to quite a few different types of restaurants—from Greek to Indian to Chinese. And now a German style restaurant has begun to do business downtown—the Chameleon.

Set in a wing of the once-famous Marlane Hotel, the restaurant is the brainchild of Hartmut and Marina Kaden, who have recently arrived here from Nova Scotia. Actually, they bought the entire dilapidated Marlane Hotel and have been working day and night to refurbish the place. Slowly, they are redoing the interior of the building, creating several kinds of living spaces, some to be available soon to rent.

In the meantime, they are operating a restaurant in that location.  Many of the meals are indeed of German origin, but they offer an international menu with items from Italian, Russian, French, and Azerbaijan cuisine.  In addition, they have a few North American dishes available. You can start with a pesto or eggplant appetizer. You can follow that with a Black Forest salad, and the main course could be schnitzel, pasta, or crepe. The restaurant is a licensed establishment.

If you arrive at the Chameleon for lunch or dinner, you will be dining in a small restaurant. The waitress will be friendly, and the cooks will be mainly Hartmut himself with Marina doing the finer things. The food will take a while to prepare, but it will be worth the wait.                      I loved the Thuringer Bratwurst with sauerkraut and red cabbage with spatzle instead of mashed potatoes. My friend raved about the Maultaschen soup with its dumplings filled with ground beef and spinach in a beef bouillon.

How did this couple get here? They decided they needed a change from their life in Halifax. One day, Marina saw the Marlane Hotel advertised on the Internet, and so they drove across Canada to have a look at it.

Initially, they weren’t keen on the building because it was dirty and run-down. It needed major work to get it operational, but they were overwhelmed by the beauty of the Castlegar area so decided to give it a try.

In fact, they took quite a chance coming west a second time. They’d sold up everything in Halifax and began their journey here without knowing if their offer for the hotel had been accepted. What a relief it must have been to learn halfway across Canada that they now owned a hotel—a fixer-upper to be sure.

Fortunately, Hartmut had spent a few years of his life as a contractor of vintage houses in Halifax, so he knew he could handle renovating the Marlane. He and Marina have spent the past year and a half bringing some of the building back into useable space. They’ve been reshaping hotel rooms on the second floor and are planning apartments for the third floor.

Meanwhile, they’ve set up this lovely little restaurant and are serving all sorts of wonderful foods.

It turns out Hartmut has a culinary background as well because he ran a motel and restaurant on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia for ten years. So both his hospitality skills and his carpentry expertise have been the necessary background to get a business going here.

Hartmut and Marina haven’t had much time for fun around Castlegar yet, but they love cycling and have been exploring trails in the area on their one day off. They appreciate the landscape and enjoyed their first winter here, which they considered quite mild. They believe Castlegar is a very liveable city and about the right size for their business—currently a restaurant, and later a refurbished hotel.

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