The historic Mount Baker Heritage Hotel will be under new ownership this summer, and will begin transformation into a boutique hotel. The restaurant Soulfood is moving into the entire main floor. Barry Coulter photo

Historic Cranbrook hotel gets new life

The Mount Baker Hotel is changing ownership, and acquiring a new anchor tenant in Soulfood.

One of Cranbrook’s great pieces of heritage real estate is taking on a new incarnation, as of this coming autumn.

The historic Mount Baker Hotel, on Baker Street and 11th Avenue South, has been recently acquired by Greg Eaton of Eaton Properties, who will take possession at the end of July. A new anchor tenant for the hotel will be the restaurant Soulfood, who will be taking over the entire main floor of the hotel in October. This includes the old barroom, and the restaurant Nikko Sushi, which is being run by the hotel’s current owners, and will remain open until October 1.

Eaton Properties will be renovating the upstairs rooms on the second and third floors, suitable for both nightly and monthly rentals.

“Eventually, the long term vision is to do more of a boutique style hotel, and capture some of that market too,” Eaton told the Townsman.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Eaton said he has an appreciation for historical buildings, supporting local business, and revitalizing the downtown core, and has been looking for an opportunity to do just that.

“I also know we have a shortage of residential rentals across the board,” he said. “The Baker Hotel has been sitting for years partly vacant and underutilized. We’re going to bring it up to modern standards and make it an exciting, relevant and vibrant part of our community once more. The building has great bones and Soulfood is exactly what we wanted for the space downstairs.

“Our plan is to completely remodel one or two units at a time over the next two or three years. The building will be transformed into a vibrant and beautiful living space that will start something new, positive and lively for our downtown core,” said Eaton. “I am so excited for Soulfood and what they are bringing to Cranbrook; it has been good for my own soul to be able to facilitate this next step for the restaurant. I truly believe this will be a symbiotic relationship — I know I will get great tenants living upstairs because of Soulfood, and I know that many of those tenants will be eating and drinking at Soulfood. This will be amazing.”

Eaton added that is was fortuitous that the old historic firehall just down the street has recently opened as taphouse and restaurant. It seems a rejuvenation and revitalization is of the downtown core is underway.

“There’s definitely a movement that’s happening, and it’s exciting to be part of it,” Eaton said.

Meanwhile, co-owners of Soulfood, Tamara Mercandelli, Caitlin Berkhiem and Christel Hagn, said in a press release the move will allow Soulfood to become what they have always intended ,at a time when it is very much needed.

“Our current location has reached its capacity,” said Mercandelli. “We don’t currently have a commercial kitchen and although we have made it work by being very creative with our menu design and cooking methods, the constricted space and limitations on cooking doesn’t allow us to grow into what we truly want to be. When we were approached by Greg to lease space in the Baker Hotel, it was quite literally a dream come to fruition.”

In the new location Soulfood plans to highlight their gourmet coffee bar, as well as their organic wine and craft cocktail bar, both of which will become focal points in the new space. They will also enhance and expand their farm-to-table casual gourmet entrees and restaurant operations. The space will enable Soulfood to grow their ‘Grab & Go’ cafe and eventually host a community co-op market, where a variety of ethically-produced local products will be sold on behalf of local farmers, food producers, artisans, and other small like-minded business owners.

Pictured below: Caitlin Berkhiem, Tamara Mercandelli, Christel Hagn Greg Eaton, outside Cranbrook’s Historic Baker Hotel. Courtesy Jody Jacob

With files from Jody Jacob

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