The La Salle River Inn is known for its tasty pizza and cheesy nachos — two food items that are often washed down with a beer in the beverage room.
Owner Drew Howard hopes the new LSCU Complex, located across PR 247 from the hotel at 67 Rue Principle, will generate more business for his beverage, dining and hotel rooms.
"We’re hoping that the new community centre and the new activities available there will carry over," he said.
"We just donated all the kitchen equipment for the centre," he said.
A plaque was placed above the community centre’s kitchen door to recognize Howard’s $20,000 donation.
The River Inn was opened in 1994, and Howard bought it five years ago. He and his wife had lived in La Salle for about five years at that time, but were commuting into Winnipeg for work.
"I was going curling and saw the For Sale sign (on the River Inn)," he recalled.
His background was in sales, and he didn’t have any experience running a hotel or restaurant.
"It was a huge learning curve," Howard said.
Since he bought the business, he’s doubled the size of the kitchen and installed industrial-grade equipment. Interior renovations have been made, but Howard said more are planned starting later this year.
As well as offering pizzas and nachos, the menu includes freshly made soups and sandwiches. Howard said the food draws people from the south end of St. Vital on a regular basis, and the beverage room is a popular destination for sports teams and other groups participating in local events.
By law, he’s required to offer hotel rooms in order to operate the beer vendor. The four rooms are often booked by workers in the area, people visiting family and those who come out for socials and parties.
As president of the La Salle and Area Chamber of Commerce, Howard is a town booster. He said the chamber’s upcoming Home & Life Show on Sat., May 3 will showcase many local businesses. This year’s location in the LSCU Complex offers more room for exhibitors and visitors.
Howard said he believes in giving back to the community, and has provided sponsorship for local events such as the annual La Salle Fall Fair, and organizations including hockey and baseball teams.
"We try to do different things," he said.
With his local community involvement and two children attending La Salle School, Howard is committed to helping the town continue to grow.
"As the town grows, I’ll have to grow as well," he said.