The Chmilar family has seen a lot change in Sicamous over their 41 years pouring the town’s drinks at Brothers Pub and Grill.
As new management prepares to take over the pub on the community’s Main Street, the outgoing owners took some time to reflect on life serving meals and slinging libations before throwing one last party.
The Chmilar’s first foray into the pub business in Sicamous came when Rob Chmilar, his wife Peggy and parents Alex and Irene took over Caesars’ neighbourhood pub in 1979. Caesars once stood just down Main Street from their current establishment.
Rob described Caesars’ as a small watering hole with no kitchen and only one kind of beer, Carling Pilsner, offered on tap for about 50 cents a glass. It was Sicamous’ only pub at the time.
Rob, his brother Rick (Richard) and the rest of the Chmilar family soon relocated up the street to Brothers Pub’s current location, allowing them to open a cold beer and wine store along with the pub. The original Brothers Pub was largely destroyed by a fire in 1993 and then rebuilt in its current location.
Along with the location, many other things have changed in the years for the Chmilars. Peggy said the clouds of cigarette smoke which wafted out the doors on a Friday night are a far cry from the smokeless Brothers of 2020.
Sicamous itself has also changed.
The Chmilars said the pub saw more year-round regulars when more year-round jobs from mills and dam projects were available in the area, and routinely enjoyed a packed house on nights when the softball league was playing.
Among the cast of characters to patronize the bar in past years were a group of young women who would show up unannounced on Saturday nights to perform a lip-synced routines of songs by the Supremes, complete with costumes.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the brisk business and party atmosphere on long weekends in the summer. Peggy recalled the bus tours of college students from Alberta that would often visit Sicamous over the May long weekend. She said the August long weekend has always been a fun time to work in the pub and liquor store as most of the patrons were off work and in high spirits thanks to the sunshine.
Some famous faces, mostly from the hockey world, have sat atop a barstool at Brothers. Rick recalled serving Darryl Sydor and also Ron McLean of Hockey Night in Canada.
Rick said some of his favourite patrons of the pub and liquor store were the tourists from as far afield as Germany and the Netherlands who routinely praised Sicamous for its natural beauty.
Along with the tourists, Brothers has always enjoyed a group of regulars. Rick said the walls of the pub are adorned with a couple plaques honouring loyal patrons who have since died – the Chmilars will be taking those decorations with them.
The Chmilars said the pub has been kept running by many excellent staff members over the years.
“It’s the people that make it a pub, the patrons and the staff.” Rick said.
“If you want to drink cheap booze you buy it and go home. If you want to talk to people and have fun, you go to the pub.”
Brothers is gearing up for one last party on Jan. 11 under the current management before the new owners take over on Jan. 15. The Chmilars are easing into retirement, and hope the pub’s regular patrons will help send them off with a bang.