Skip to content

Squamish food beat: New owners at The Backyard to add events and diversify menu

Pete Moonen and Blake Mahovic say they aim to build upon an already flourishing foundation.

The name may be the same, but the two new co-owners of The Backyard Squamish have aims to build upon its flourishing foundation.

On a surprisingly warm day, the Valleycliffe pub is buzzing with contractors just a couple of weeks since a change in ownership. Co-owner and community manager, Blake Mahovic, is contemplating how to arrange one side of the roomy restaurant while the general manager and other co-owner, Pete Moonen, is talking with a few of the contractors.

When the two sit down to talk with The Squamish Chief, Moonen describes how coincidental the new endeavour came about, as the previous owner just happened to stop and chat with Moonen where he previously worked in Horseshoe Bay. 

But, Moonen said it had long been a dream to own a bar and it was equally great to find a home for the Axemen Rugby Club, where he and Mahovic met.

“It's just kind of like a mix of things,” Moonen said about getting into ownership. “Like being close to home, always wanting to own my own bar and wanting a home for the Axemen.”

In a similar vein, Mahovic said growing up in northern England, the pub was where the community went for everything.

“It's a place where everyone goes, and it's where everyone has their birthdays, funerals, and everything in between,” he said.

Ultimately, creating that community feel is where they want to grow the business.

“We're looking to build on the great foundation that was built here and we want to just add on that,” said Moonen.

Currently, part of the build includes diversifying their menu.

Moonen listed a number of new items already on the revised menu, such as barbecue chicken pizza, tuna burger, pulled pork sandwich, churros, and others. He also said they aim to add some lighter items like a recent favourite dragon boat tuna.

“It’s like a seared ahi tuna on a crispy wonton,” Moonen explained. “Sometimes people … just finished up their hike [and] maybe they want something a little bit lighter.”

Moonen also said they aim to add other vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options to accommodate a wider range of dietary needs.

As members of the Axemen, Moonen and Mahovic said there will certainly be some get-togethers between competitors after games.

Yet, Mahovic also said it was important to broaden the customer base by extending operating hours and introducing engaging ways to ensure The Backyard is a space for everyone. For example, he said they aim to start a family night on Mondays in the weeks ahead, and they plan to take a more active role in the community markets that Smoke Bluff Coffee has been throwing.

“We’re just going to double down on that identity of being a neighbourhood pub,” he said.

And, of course, Mahovic said they are always open to ideas from community members.

“If they have something that they want to run,” he said, “we would love to see if we can make some stuff work.”

As the two reflected, they said it almost felt like destiny to own a pub called The Backyard because of the name’s ties to a song that the Axemen sing after games.

As Mahovic explained further, rugby clubs often have songs or chants the team sings after games. For the Axemen, he said they wanted something “ridiculous but really fun.” So, they decided the club would sing Milkshake by Kelis.

In a sort of ode to the Axemen, Mahovic said, they’ll be offering milkshakes on Mondays.

“It … was kind of prophetic that the bar was called The Backyard,” said Moonen.

“Because the milkshakes bring the boys to the yard,” they said in unison.

Check out more on The Backyard’s Instagram or stop by and say hello.

The Food Beat is a new series from The Squamish Chief newsroom focusing on restaurants, cafés and eateries in Squamish that are newly opened or have something newsworthy about them. If you think your business fits that bill and would like to be considered for this series, reach out to [email protected].

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks