Change Is Good
Katja Schmidt, 30, and Christine Kent, 35, have opened a half-dozen Whitehorse businesses in as many years. They just can’t help themselves: “We’re entrepreneurs,” says Kent. “We love opening things, we love to create things.”
2000s: The pair works together at longtime Whitehorse standby Giorgio’s Cuccina. Both started their food industry careers at age 13, bussing tables.
Kent: “We kind of grew up in the restaurant.”
December 2010: Burnt Toast opens on 2nd Avenue and becomes a Whitehorse brunch staple. The pair brainstormed the idea for the place during a summer road trip to Dawson City.
Kent: “We thought maybe there was a hole in the market for breakfast.”
December 2011: The Cork & Bull, a steakhouse and fine dining restaurant, opens in one half of the old Capital Hotel building on Main Street. A pub, the Dirty Northern Public House, opens in the other half the next summer. “It was nothing we ever thought we would do,” Schmidt says of the bar, “and now it’s our favourite business.”
Early 2012: Schmidt and Kent sell Burnt Toast.
Kent: “We love changing things—to our detriment.”
Early 2014: Birch + Bear opens in Spook Creek Station. It specializes in healthy lunch options—think quinoa, kale, avocado, shredded beets, and homemade dressing served in a wrap or bowl.
June 2015: Birch + Bear relocates to the Waterfront Station building nearby, into a space initially occupied by the pair’s short-lived clothing store, Hunter Gatherer.
Schmidt: “Most of it is just a reflection of ourselves – the décor and spaces are places we want to hang out.”
June 2015: The Cork & Bull re-opens as Miner’s Daughter, a more casual restaurant-bar.
Kent: “We decided to shut it down the year sales were the highest.”
Schmidt: The steakhouse was high stress "because it was so high-end. We both wanted to have more fun.”