March 29th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 13
Under new ownership, the Cos tries to find its niche
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Narry Saini is the new owner of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Blairmore. His happy place is in the kitchen, and the Cos is now one of the only spots in town that offers late-night food options from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Pass Herald Reporter
With many beloved eateries, bars and cafes around Crowsnest Pass and at a time when several new establishments are opening just in time for spring, the new owners of the Cos in Blairmore are working on determining just which gap the historic Cosmopolitan hotel will fill in the community.

“So many people have memories associated with the Cos, so we just want to build on that so people and their families can have new memories,” says operations manager Vishal Saini, whose family took over the enterprise on March 15. “We want to get a vibe from the community of what they want because we’re here to serve them.”

Vishal and his mother Madhu still live in Calgary, but his father Narry currently lives in Blairmore, running the establishment full time.

Cosmopolitan vision

Being a longstanding iconic establishment in the Pass, the Cos means many different things for different people. Vishal says they want the Cos to fill a gap in the community, but what that will look like is still to be determined.

With so many ideas and suggestions that Vishal has received, he says the focus going forward is playing it by ear and finding the Cos’ identity and target crowd among the Pass’s existing and up-and-coming establishments. With so many choices of bars, cafes and restaurants around this small community, the Cos’ focus will be on collaborative and cooperative efforts, rather than competition.

“We want to be creating partnerships with the community,” says Vishal. “It’s our dream that we all just build a better Crowsnest together rather than compete. It’s a small community and there’s not really much room for competition. We want the Cos to be a warm, inviting place where people come hang out.”
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Although the Cos has a large, fully furnished space for a sit-down restaurant or cafe in the back portion of the building that is closed to the public, whether that will become in use depends on momentum from everything else.

“We’re at a place where we can fill a hole in the community, so we’re open to suggestions,” says Vishal.

One thing they’re certain of, however, is that they’re expanding the food menu, bringing in more draft beer varieties and broadcasting live horse racing events.

Narry and Madhu both went through formal chef training by completing the culinary program at SAIT. Narry, who achieved his Red Seal Chef status, has a long-time passion for cooking and prides himself on using fresh ingredients and homemade dishes.

On the Cos menu right now is classic pub grub done right, from sandwiches and burgers to steaks and chicken wings. They also offer all-day breakfast, take-out options and catering services.

The menu here isn’t set in stone and with time, as feedback is received from the community, the vision is to expand and diversify if there is a demand for it.

“The restaurant has a history of opening and closing, opening and closing. I will not be one of those guys,” says Narry, who is determined to fill a niche and a need, offering the community the exact type of dining they want whether it is breakfast and lunch place or a fine dining experience.

Although the pub is the cornerstone of establishment, they’re also looking to get new pool tables and arcade games, and upgrade the hotel rooms which are certainly past their prime.
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“This is not my standard,” says Narry, who has a vision of livening up the Cos and reviving the historical establishment.

Eight 40-inch television screens are to be installed for broadcasting live sporting events, notably horse racing events. Off-track betting stations will be installed and a theatre-style viewing area.

Laying down roots

The Saini family has years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. They owned and operated their first hotel in Gleichen, Alberta, eventually building enough momentum to open a second one in town. They sold both after seven years and eventually operated a hotel-restaurant-bar in Claresholm until 2007.

This isn’t the first time that the Cos caught the Sainis’ eye. They considered purchasing the business in 2014, a project that fell through after a health scare in the family.

For many years now, they’ve been coming to Southern Alberta to enjoy the many outdoor activities the area has to offer and with a special appreciation towards Crowsnest Pass, it’s a place the Sainis would like to lay down roots and retire.

“Something about being in a kitchen, serving people and being in a smaller community was something that attracted my parents of wanting to live in a small town. They had looked around the province, but you can’t beat this area,” says Vishal.

The Cos was operated by Cliff and Lynne Sigvaldasons for over 20 years until, in 2014, it went to new owners Jessie and Yang Jun Zhang.

A new ownership party with prizes and food specials will take place on May 6, the day of the 2017 Kentucky Derby, which will be broadcast live throughout the night.
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March 29th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 13
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