One of White Rock’s most well-known restaurateurs – whose first name has been emblazoned on the front of his Marine Drive establishment for most of the last four decades – has died.
Uli Blume, founder of Uli’s Restaurant, passed away this week after battling illness “for a few years” according to a tribute posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page by his son, Tyson, who now runs the popular waterfront establishment.
Calling him “my mentor and the visionary and original proprietor of Uli’s Restaurant,” the younger Blume noted that his father lived nearly 40 years in White Rock, “made a lot of friends” in the city, and “loved and celebrated life and an exorbitant passion.”
“He would have wanted us to lift a glass in his memory.”
Blume, whose roots were German, brought a European flavour to the waterfront when he opened Uli’s at 15065 Marine Drive in 1985; he had previously honed his culinary skills at hotels in England, Holland, France, the Bahamas and South America.
He eventually sold the restaurant, but in 2007 at age 64 – after five years away from the waterfront strip – he brought the Uli’s name back to the beach after purchasing a different restaurant and restoring his former business at its current address, 15023 Marine Dr.
“I was bored, I needed something constructive,” he told Peace Arch News at the time, noting he’d spent his brief retirement cycling and exploring Europe.
“I like people, I like the hustle and bustle.”
As news of Blume’s passing spread, many friends and former restaurant patrons took to social media to express their condolences and share memories of the longtime business owner; more than 600 comments were made on Uli’s Restaurant’s Facebook page in less than 24 hours.
“His charm and flair for food and life was undeniable,” wrote Sheree Morgan.
“He was a White Rock legend and will be missed. I have so many fond memories of Uli and his legendary restaurant,” wrote Pamela Bendall.
“Uli you gave us a place to gather, eat and laugh. You provided jobs to so many starting out in life. An undeniable thread weaving the fabric of White Rock community together,” wrote Maria Malczewska.
On Thursday, the White Rock Business Improvement Association released a statement on its Facebook page, noting that “this loss will be felt throughout White Rock.”
“Uli was an original restaurateur… he was a pillar to our community and will be deeply missed.”