It’s a story that couldn’t have been scripted any better, according to the Library’s CEO Bill Ptacek.
A search for a business to operate the café in Central Library led to two Calgary entrepreneurs seeking to do something iconic in their hometown. Gareth Lukes and Eric Hendry are partnering on LUKES, a 2,000-square-foot café opening in November 2018 that promises to be welcoming, collaborative, and responsive.
Gareth Lukes is the third-generation owner of the popular Lukes Drug Mart. Eric Hendry, a former Model Milk chef who has worked around the globe, is back in Calgary at award-winning restaurant Bar Von Der Fels.
Lukes and Hendry first partnered to bring soft-serve ice cream back to Lukes Drug Mart last summer. Their new collaboration is poised to be just as delicious.
Operating within one of the city’s most important cultural gathering spaces is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Lukes, speaking at the Jan. 16 announcement for the new café.
“Like the Library itself, which is inclusive and accessible, we believe food can serve to bring families and people together to fuel discussion and stimulate learning,” he said.
At LUKES, visitors can expect an approachable and interesting menu with affordable prices, plus an emphasis on local, healthy, and sustainable choices, Hendry said.
Councillor Druh Farrell, a member of the Calgary Public Library Board, described Lukes and Hendry as people who embody Calgary’s entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit.
“It’s their commitment to Calgary that makes their partnership so special for the new Library,” Farrell said at the Jan. 16 announcement. “Together, their vision, experience, and local know-how will elevate the visitor experience at the Library.”
Three Questions for Gareth Lukes and Eric Hendry
If you could cook for any author, who would it be?
Eric Hendry: Ernest Hemingway.
What’s your favourite book?
Eric Hendry: Probably 1984 by George Orwell. I think it has some relevance in this day and age, which I like about it now.
Gareth Lukes: I’d say Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I just like the bizarreness of that book.
What role has Calgary Public Library played in your life?
Gareth Lukes: I remember always going as a kid and checking out books. The Library is a great resource, and it’s just a great place.
Eric Hendry: Fish Creek Library was iconic when I was growing up in the south. I love to read. For sure, the Library plays a role in community, and that’s what we want to do as well.