March 5th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 9
Country Encounters owners to open hotel, 50-seat tapas themed restaurant
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black photo
Dawn Rigby, owner of Country Encounters, showing plans for a new 50-seat restaurant and hotel in Coleman.
Pass Herald Reporter
Mark and Dawn Rigby, owners of Country Encounters, are asking Pass residents if they are ready for tapas.
The Rigbys could be offering area residents a chance to dine Spanish style in their soon to be built 50 seat restaurant and five room hotel as early as next year.
The entrepreneurs have purchased five lots across the street from their catering business in Coleman. Dawn says their development permit was approved Wednesday. They have an excavator lined up to start construction as soon as the ground thaws.
The Rigbys own two properties in Coleman, but Dawn says they turn away potential customers every summer because they don’t have the space. The expansion will solve this by giving them four extra accommodation rooms, plus a two-room accommodation suite to host tourists, plus a parking lot and a downstairs restaurant and bar.
Tapas are a variety of snacks and appetizers. In a social setting, tapas are designed to stimulate conversation because people are sharing many plates instead of concentrating on their one meal.
“You’re meant to come, relax, have a glass of wine and share some plates,” said Dawn. “You order a few of them and share them with the table and you order four or five plates between [two people] and that makes dinner.”
The culinary style was developed in Spain where stuffed olives, wine roasted chorizo sausage and calamari are a few traditional tapas dishes. Dawn says she’ll be incorporating local cuisine and ethnically influenced favourites into the menu.

“With all the immigrants that came here originally; the Polish, the Italians, the Slavic countries, the mix in heritage here is just wild, I’ve never been in an area that is so obsessed with cabbage rolls,” said Dawn.
Dawn says the idea of creating a tapas themed eatery was Mark’s idea.
“He’s the one that comes up with the ideas, I just implement. Implement and organize.”
The couple says they will continue offering their catering services, as it has always been the main source of their livelihood. They’ve been in their current location in Coleman for 16 years.
“The wonderful thing about catering is it’s different every time you do it, you’re doing it for different groups, it’s not necessarily the same menu and you have the freedom to do whatever [you like],” said Dawn.
The Rigbys are returning from a fact-finding mission for their new venture where they visited some of the culinary hotspots of Europe including Bologna, Venice and Barcelona.
Between the two of them the Rigbys have been in the hospitality industry for decades. Dawn was a hotel owner, a chef at a downtown restaurant in Calgary and an instructor at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Mark was a chef at a private golf club and a contractor and still switches back and forth between contracting and cooking.
“It’s going to be a lot of work for me,” joked Mark. “[But] anytime you’re looking at doing a kitchen and opening up a new restaurant and a new venture like that is extremely exciting.”
March 5th ~ Vol. 84 No. 9
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