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Innisfail's Dark Woods hosting Canada Day grand opening

Innisfail’s entrepreneurial twins see light after opening and then enduring COVID
MVP Dark Woods family 2021
The Bell family in front of their Dark Woods Brewing & Coffee Roasting business on Main Street. from left to right is Scott, Nick and son Mason, wife Brianna and daughter Brooks. They are hosting an all-day grand opening on Canada Day. Nikki Collette Photography

INNISFAIL – After a year and a half of braving the always challenging start-up of a small business and then going through the COVID pandemic with its accompanying restrictions, the grand opening of Dark Woods Brewing & Coffee Roasting is finally happening on Canada Day.

It is the same day the province is moving into Stage 3 of its recovery plan for the pandemic, one that sees all restrictions been lifted, which is especially gratifying for all small businesses that have faced a devastating burden during the crisis.

“After a year-and-a-half of being open, then closed, then open and then closed, we are finally doing a grand opening,” said co-owner Nick Bell, who opened Dark Woods with his 31-year-old twin brother Scott on Jan. 1, 2020. There was then three months of joyful celebration of achieving a dream, and then heartbreak of having to face the world’s worst public health crisis in more than a century.

“Opening and closing with regards to a small business in a small town, we’re having to fire staff. We are having to rehire staff,” noted Nick. “Some people are not coming back. Some are.

"Some people are on different routes now because we couldn’t keep them around for long enough, and even the headaches and stress that it puts on a small business owner to do these openings and closings and trying to follow every rule there is and its’ still not good enough,” he added.

“It’s a huge relief that we are finally at that 70 per cent mark (vaccinations) and we can finally move forward and open up our doors.”

On July 1, Dark Woods Brewing & Coffee Roasting will be open all day for the grand opening, starting with the coffee rush at 7 a.m. and continuing for the next 16 hours or so until dark.

Devin Cooper, the local award-winning southern rock-country artist, will do a free live show from 2 to 6 p.m. The event will also feature plenty of food, drink and coffee deals and specials.

And the twin brothers are finally opening their long-awaited kitchen for the first time.

“With the whole COVID we haven’t been pushing too hard because it is tough to do take-out, especially for a brewery like us. It’s very tough to rely on take-out sales,” said Nick, noting a chef and five cooks have been hired.

“We are finally at the point of opening the kitchen and we have a full menu for lunch and dinner, and we will have a breakfast menu in the near future.”

Best of all, the event will not require anyone to wear a mask, and there won’t be any issues with capacity at the venue.

“After the whole COVID crisis we are more than excited with no concerns about opening on July 1,” concluded Nick.