BANFF – Ticino Swiss-Italian Restaurant is one of the longest-standing family restaurants in Banff.
While it’s been with Erwin Widmer and his family for 40 years and has now been passed down to his daughter, Angela Helie and her husband, Louis-Pierre Helie, Ticino's goes back even further.
Before Erwin took over Ticino’s, which was located in Banff’s downtown core along Wolf Street at the time, it was run by George and André Schwarz.
“My dad and them also grew up together in Switzerland," said Angela.
"They were neighbours in Switzerland when they were kids. It’s just a crazy connection that they bought Ticino’s and then my dad worked for them."
But in 1979, George and André Schwarz sold Ticino Restaurant to Erwin, who has now passed it along to the next generation in his family.
With Louis-Pierre and Angela at the helm, they wanted to stay true to its European roots.
“The way we run the restaurant – it’s very European-style. The family touch is really what makes a difference from other restaurants,” Louis-Pierre said.
Ticino’s always offers a welcoming atmosphere for both tourists and Bow Valley locals – it’s the experience that sets them apart from other restaurants and even keeps them coming back.
“It used to surprise me when people would come back – let’s say they’re here for a week-long trip and it’s not surprising when people come three, four or five times during the week,” Louis-Pierre said.
One of their most popular dishes is the cheese fondue, according to Angela. She said it’s a food dish that encourages intimate conversation.
“Fondues take a while too – they’re conversational, they’re meant to be shared … Especially in the winter, it’s awesome to come in and warm up with fondue. It’s just the socialization – bringing the slow-food conversations back to the table, as opposed to eating really fast,” Angela said.
Throughout the years, Ticino's has also tried to support local businesses around Bow Valley. By keeping most of their products local, the restaurant really wants to represent the strength and goodness of Bow Valley foods.
“We get the support from a lot of locals that come here throughout the whole year, so we want to support the other businesses that are local … It’s probably a little more expensive than buying the wholesale coffee beans, but we can say it’s from Banff and people come to Banff to try things from here,” Louis-Pierre said.
“It’s supporting our friends and other people in the community,” Angela added.
While the official anniversary of Ticino’s was early July, the Widmer-Helie family are inviting locals to come to celebrate 40 years in the family next week from Oct. 14-18.