Vick and Kamal Ghotra stand in front of their restaurant

Expansion at Harrison Esplanade restaurant

Black Forest Restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs to build a second story deck for patrons

Black Forest restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs is looking to add 60 seats to their restaurant with the expansion of an upstairs deck. With the recent approval from the Village of Harrison Hot Springs, they are one step away from making it a reality.

Harrison Hot Springs Council approved a development variance permit and development permit for the owners to expand their upstairs deck and add a rear addition for residence space, owner parking and loading room.

The development variance permit allows the second storey deck to be expanded to the west, to abut with the Harrison Beach Hotel, and to the north, to line up with the front of the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

At the Council meeting January 19, staff reported there were 22 letters in support of the renovation and three letters opposed. Letters in support remarked the expansion will attract more visitors. Letters in opposition cited concerns about the structure abutting the hotel and fire safety as well as a loss of aesthetic appeal. In response to the issue of fire safety, Village CAO Ian Crane said the business is required to build firewalls at the east and the south end of the building.

Coun. John Buckley remarked that the Black Forest restaurant has operated an “extraordinary business” and with the addition of the second floor deck, it will “provide a view of the lake and attract more visitors.” Coun. Sonja Reyerse was pleased to see the current character maintained with the renovation.

Owner Vick Ghotra says the expansion will allow the restaurant to reduce wait times during high season.

“Summer is our peak season and everyone wants to sit outside,” explains Ghotra.

With waits of more than an hour during peak times, Ghotra says it was time to expand. They made the decision last year and started the process of developing the plans and getting permission from the Village. Black Forest already has an upstairs patio but it was not available for public use.

With the development variance permit and development permit approved, all they need now is the building permit which will be provided by the Village when all requirements have been met. Ghotra is hoping to start construction in February and is estimating two to three months for completion.

Black Forest was built in 1971. Ghotra says they bought the business in 2012 and are preparing for their fourth summer season as owners of this German-themed restaurant. Ghotra and his wife Kamal co-own Black Forest as well as two other German-themed restaurants with his brother and sister-in-law Sunny and Kiran Ghotra.