The future of Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon in Banff is uncertain.
The current owners of the Banff Avenue bar are calling it quits, saying the cost of doing business in Banff is proving to be too high.
They told their approximately 40 staff on Saturday (Jan. 8) of their decision.
“It’s pretty disappointing as an owner operator, and we’ve done everything we can to control our expenses, but the recession has been difficult,” said Silvio Adamo, one of six co-owners.
“As everyone knows, rent and the cost of doing business in this community is very high as far as industry averages go,” he added. “The expense to run a facility this large is just not feasible under the current economic times.”
The building that houses Wild Bill’s is owned by Caribou Properties – also known as Banff Lodging Company.
The business is now for sale through the landlord. It is not yet entirely clear what Caribou’s plans are for the second-storey location.
“The reality and fact is there will still be a bar-restaurant operating there,” said Gordon Lozeman, president of Banff Lodging Company.
“Someone might want to take the keys and carry on as is, or explore a whole new concept.”
News of the possible closure spread like wildfire throughout the tourist town.
Offering a unique western atmosphere, the bar is hugely popular for its live bands, a great dance hall, line dance and two-step lessons, as well as calf roping.
It’s been extremely popular through the years for its live music and budding talent.
One posting on Facebook said: “Banff is losing a part of itself.” Yet another read: “This is sad news. Banff won’t seem the same.”
The current ownership – Silvio Adamo, Dave Swanson, Rob Tooke, Jamie Darrock, Jeff Whitefield and Chris Rosmand – took over the bar about 11 years ago. It had run about eight years before that under different owners.
The current owners of Wild Bill’s are well known for their generous support of the community. They fund-raised for various events and, among other things, also sponsor the Banff Rugby Football Club and a team in the Bow Valley Soccer League.
“There’s a lot of sentiment and history in the place and it has strong ties to the community,” said Adamo.
“It’s locally owned and operated. As far as small locally owned businesses go in this community, we’re slowly deteriorating.”
Adamo said they plan to go out with a big bang.
“We’re looking to continue business as usual until the end of April,” he said. “We will have a lot of groups and bands and promotions going on to try to finish off.”