Mile One brings the hundred mile diet to the table
What happens when a couple with combined 30 years of experience in fine dining, at front of house (her) and back of house (him) get tired of commuting to work and decide to set up shop in their own neighbourhood? Well, dinner just got good. When Chef Randy Jones and his wife Cindy Yu opened Mile One Eating House in Pemberton, they hit the refresh button on a host of diner classics, bringing their fine dining foodie ways “down home” to suit Pemberton to a tee. So, what does happen when fine dining comes down to earth? You get a gourmet mac’n’cheese selection that makes established culinary columnists swoon, steak and beer dinner specials for $15, and the all-natural Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef Burger Collection and house “This is a Potato” Yukon Gold Potato Wedges. Aside from the menu and the in-store market of BC artisan products, the establishment’s giant map of the region, western red cedar community table, concrete floor and kids’ play zone combine to say: Come sit your feet under our table, dirty boots and all. We wrestled one of their few hours off, to get the lowdown.
When did you open?
March 16th, 2011
Where did the name Mile One come from?
Pemberton is truly a gateway to adventure in wildspaces… Mile One represents our vision of the beginning or end of one’s journey. It is a reference to the mile markers you’d find exploring the many logging roads in the area.
This is a family owned and operated business. What’s the division of labour?
We all work hard!
Who’s really the boss?
It’s a team effort. Cindy is very involved in the front of house detail and Randy very focused on the kitchen and business side.
Randy, you’ve been a chef at Whistler Blackcomb for a decade and Executive Chef at Long Beach Lodge Resort in Tofino. Cindy, you’ve worked at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Chateau Whistler in front-of-house capacity. What’s the difference between owning and running your own business, versus doing it for someone else?
Just a few more details to keep on top of when it’s all your responsibility, otherwise we have tried to maintain a certain level of service standards, food quality, and professionalism that underscore our previous experiences.
We both grew up in the Lower Mainland with all the amenities of a big city, but even though Pemberton doesn’t have all the glitz and glamour, it has so much more to offer in the way of lifestyle. A healthy and safe area with a giant playground all around us is a good trade-off for not having to be surrounded by consumerism and commercialism.
How long have you lived here?
Whistler since 2000, Pembie from 2006 to present.
How did your sense of Pemberton and the people here inform the type of business you decided to open and the kind of menu you wanted to offer?
We have a young son ourselves, and realize the huge amount of families here. The farming community, the tradespeople, the hospitality commuters to Whistler…. the people who live in Pemberton are genuine and hard working. We want the food at Mile One to reflect that. The menu offerings are things that everyone can relate to. It’s not fancy. It’s good ingredients cooked fresh. The open kitchen leaves nothing to hide and it’s straight up, what you see is what you get.
What is the giant map of the region all about?
Pemberton is about outdoor adventures and exploring the diversity of the natural beauty around us. I have been fourtunate to spend many hours within a good portion of the area….but there’s a lifetime of adventure around here. Many of our guests have stood in front of the map for a good long time. And a lot of the long time residents here know different names for some of the places and features.
Mile One is at the junction of Highway 99 and downtown Pemberton. And the menu seems to be at the junction of fine dining and fast food. Is this operation a kind of balancing act?
It definitely is. To try and change peoples’ attitudes about what a modern burger joint can be. Fresh cooked and not deep fried. We offer food that’s at a crossroads between fine dining regional BC cuisine and fast food. Food that everyone can relate to. Unlike some restaurants that offer burgers, we cook our Pemberton Natural Beef patties to order from raw. The only thing we have ready to eat right away are our lovely homemade desserts (cookies, brownies, and pie) made locally by Simply Delicious Bakery. But Mile One is certainly more than just burgers. Garbanzo veggie wrap, cheese steak, crisp salads with Albacore tuna, chicken parm.
The in-restaurant market features a lot of regional BC foodstuffs. Who are some of your suppliers?
Two Rivers Meats – exclusive purveyors of Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef, Village Cheese Co, Little Qualicum Cheese Works, Natural Gifts Seafoods, Simply Delicious Bakery, Sweets Tree Ventures, buns come from Blackbird Bakery, we’ve just received the first of the season Across the Creek Organics potatoes.
Your house spud comes in the form of baked potato wedges. How can a person eat a burger without an accompaniment of French fries?
We’ve found that the people who live here are very active and health conscious (especially with growing preferences towards organics) and we have made a deliberate decision not to use any kind of deep frying processes. The feedback we are getting from our guests indicate to us that they also appreciate the consideration.
What’s the best thing about running your own operation?
Being able to provide a product that we think is new and different than what Pemberton already has. Offering products that BC residents can be proud of. Meeting all the different people in the community.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Balance. We like to play in the mountains too… but running a business like Mile One takes commitment.
If you could describe your menu in 3 words, what would they be?
Quality, real, genuine.