Giraffe Restaurant owner Jamie Humphreys says there are a number of reasons why the waterfront restaurant had to close its doors permanently, and cited a lack of parking as one of the contributing factors.
A fixture on White Rock’s West Beach since 1989, the restaurant closed late last month.
Described by Humphreys as a “destination restaurant,” he told Peace Arch News Friday that a portion of Giraffe’s business normally came from reservations of people celebrating special occasions.
During the busy summer months, he said, they would have reservations cancelled last-minute, at the request of the customer, because they could not find parking on Marine Drive.
He said this would happen often during the height of summer.
“I don’t want to make it sound like it’s all about parking,” Humphreys told PAN. “But it is an issue, it is a factor for sure – the lack of.”
He said customers have become accustomed to paying for parking on the waterfront but that it would “certainly help in the winter” to eliminate pay parking.
Humphreys – who owned the restaurant for 25 of its 28 years – said he’s in support of the four-level parkade slated for the corner of Vidal Street and Victoria Avenue, but noted he “wasn’t happy” when the city announced its plan to remove more than 30 parking stalls for the Memorial Park upgrade project.
Due to conflict with Semiahmoo First Nation, the upgrade project was delayed in September and construction fences still block approximately 12 parking stalls along the strip. White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin told PAN in October that taxpayers will be billed for the project delays, and that the extension cost per day is “not going to be cheap.”
Another issue contributing to the closure, Humphreys said, is a general trend of customers preferring to eat at more casual establishments; he cited today’s economy as a reason for that.
Baldwin said the closure is “a real shame.”
“It’s been one of our top-end restaurants. If you had an anniversary or something like that, that’s where you would go. Jamie was a really good restaurateur, he knew the business. He always provided good product with good service,” Baldwin told PAN Friday.
Humphreys said he’s going to take some time to think and will be going “onward and upward.”
“I just want to to thank the loyal customers and all the friends we made on the beach,” Humphreys said.
The restaurant had 10 employees.