The Roster Sports Club Bar & Grill is looking to reopen in late June 2020, but patrons may not recognize it following all the renovations and changes made during COVID-19 downtime. (Google Maps)

Vernon’s Roster revamps amid COVID-19 downtime

Owners plan for late-June opening of squash club, sports bar, following renos, pandemic

After COVID-19 forced doors closed on several businesses, one Vernon establishment took the time to make some major improvements, and now the owners are eager to reopen when safe to do so.

The Rosters Sports Club first closed its doors in March following directives from provincial health officials, but the work didn’t stop for the Hollandses.

Owner Hussein Hollands and his wife, Anya, purchased the facility in September 2019 with goals to expand.

“Having to lay off employees and shut down our facility impacted our valued and long-term employees, our fitness and squash club members and our patrons who frequent the restaurant as an important part of their social wellness,” Hollands said. “Although it was hard to see a silver lining, we decided to use the downtown to continue making improvements.”

Now, when the owners — who are both medical doctors and erring on the side of caution — do decide to open their doors, despite the province’s plans to reopen restaurants around mid-May, patrons can expect to see some big changes: starting with the sign.

“It’s not an easy decision to spend money when you aren’t sure when you will be able to operate,” Hollands said. “But we are confident the improvements are worth the effort and we can’t wait to welcome our members and patrons back to an even greater place — that has been our priority.”

Newly resurfaced court floors, new fencing, new LED lights in courts, kitchen improvements, flooring and exterior and interior painting are among some of the improvements made during the sports club’s quarantine time.

“COVID-19 has definitely taken a toll,” Hollands said. “But when we bought the club last fall, we had a vision to make some improvements and ensure it stayed a part of the community for years to come.”

Long-time patrons of the pub known for its wing night across the city will also come home to a newly improved outdoor patio space.

But safety is still the top priority for Hollands.

“In addition to ensuring we have time to complete renovations and improvements, we want to ensure our staff, who are like family, and our patrons and members are safe when they come back,” he said. “We don’t want to rush protocols and safety and are willing to sacrifice our bottom line to do so.”

Hollands said “at best” the Roster is looking to cut its seating capacity in half to ensure social distancing, but he’s hopeful that, with the extra lounge and promoting take-out, it can work.

Hollands said he’s also looking at ways to avoid bumping up prices to stay profitable.

“Fortunately, we have a large facility and are looking at ways to supplement revenue streams by re-configuring space to lease to third parties, such as yoga, Pilates, massage or other health and wellness professionals,” he said. “We also have the newly renovated lounge in the back, which will allow for pub overflow in busy times, as we have events such as Christmas parties, birthday parties and fundraisers.”

The Roster, established in 1993, is eyeing a late-June opening, the Hollandses said.

Gym operations have yet to be specifically mentioned in the provincial announcements, but Hollands said he expects the timing for health clubs will likely be in line with the restaurant’s opening.

READ MORE: Vernon Farmer’s Market weathering the challenges of COVID-19

READ MORE: Vernon businesses in limbo over reopening plans


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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