CASTLEGAR — This week Chris and Kathy Sykes, the long-time owners of Castlegar’s Tim Horton’s, handed over ownership of the store they have run for 19 years.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Kathy Sykes. “It’s exciting. We are almost 60 and we are at that time — it seems just two seconds ago we started and its almost 20 years.”
The Sykes originally came to Castlegar from Calgary, tired of hectic city life and ready to return to small-town roots. When friends told them about an opportunity to buy into a Tim Horton’s being built in Castlegar, they packed their kids up in the middle of the winter and drove through a snowstorm to check out what Castlegar had to offer.
It was love at first sight.
“There was deep snow, but the sun was out,” said Kathy. “We came down the hill and it was all fresh and glistening. We walked around town, and everyone was so friendly.”
They spent a few days exploring and then decided to make Castlegar their home.
“We fell in love with it instantaneously — you know how you go to a place and it just feels right,” added Kathy.
Back in those days, new owners went to about three months of “doughnut school,” but once that was done they entered the business at full steam. The Sykes have seen many changes in their years at Tim’s and say they have a staff that feels like family. Over the years they have watched numerous romances blossom and end in marriage and teenage staffers grow up and have kids.
“We love it … It’s been a great life,” said Kathy.
The Sykes plan on staying in Castlegar and continuing to work to make their community a better place. Kathy is a director of the Chamber of Commerce and Chris is a member of the Castlegar Economic Development Committee and is a member of the Rotary Club.
“Castlegar is such a cool community,” added Kathy. “It is on that cusp of a small town, but it really has a sense of vibrancy and opportunity.”
New owners plan future expansions
When Paul and Beryl Stawarz took possession of the Castlegar Tim Horton’s store this week, they came with visions of expansion in the future.
Next year, they will be opening a store in Grand Forks. They have plans of expanding in this area as well, potentially adding a second Castlegar store and one in Nelson.
The couple owns seven other Tim Horton’s in the South Okanagan. Their business is a family affair — their two daughters along with their husbands all work together to make the venture successful.
The Stawarz are happy with the way things are at the Castlegar location and will be keeping the current store manager and staff in place.
“They have a great crew here — a great kind of family,” said Paul. “We want that same thing.”
“We are very hands-on, so we will be out here all the time,” said Paul. “With today’s technology we can see, hear, feel everything with the click of a button. Even though we won’t be physically here on a daily basis — we will be involved with the store through our management and through the phone and computers.”
The Stawarz have been with Tim Horton’s for 27 years.