5 Kings in Town

By Rob Patry

I’m not much of a card player, but I know there are 4 kings in a standard deck. As of this fall a fifth king is in the game, a new restaurant on the cusp of a grand opening. Lisa Aronson, Chef/Owner of The 5 Kings Restaurant in St. Stephen knows how the cards are dealt. Her hand holds passion, community, food, and preserving history. She was the top choice to run the latest foray in ‘The Renaissance” of St. Stephen, which has moved beyond the stage of developing adolescent, challenged with inevitable growing pains, to a more mature adult.  A place ready to showcase its style and class, Lisa will be part of this exciting rebirth. She is young, hip, sophisticated with enough savvy and swagger to dish out a positive perspective. 

In the short time I have lived here, there is a palpable sense of both progress and change on the streets. Established businesses co-exist with the people they serve. New enterprises (franchise and independent) rely upon the whole population, rather than a divisive fragmentation of a demographic. St. Stephen is an organic organism that changes to the ebb and flow of peoples’ needs, trying to satisfy them, always striving to improve. Our town has a young Mayor, and a beautiful Civic Centre available for sports, cultural events, and as an iconic meeting place for people on both sides of the border to gather. To mention a few facilities, the complex features an NHL size hockey rink, (home of the St. Stephen Aces), a 25-meter swimming pool, and a gym. It is something for people of St. Stephen and Calais to share and take advantage of for their wellness and entertainment purposes. The Town of St. Stephen has excellent amenities, restaurants, cafés, trails, rivers, parks and a promising artistic community. An easygoing bohemian lifestyle filled with fresh approaches to old issues, out of box thinkers, a Key West of the north.

The old train station in St. Stephen will be home to The Five Kings Restaurant and Brew Pub. Opening by Halloween, it will be a restaurant and an onsite brewing facility, thanks to the Picaroons Brewing Company of Fredericton. It’s a win/win scenario for the town and the province of New Brunswick to have a heritage building saved, another new restaurant in town, and a manufacturing facility. I was fortunate enough to have a preliminary walk-through. For the last few years the station was the home of the St. Stephen Visitor Centre, which has moved to the new Irving Service Center. Chef Lisa’s desire to be respectful of its heritage is a strong priority in her mandate.

“I want this to be a spot to hang out in, enjoy great food, a patio in the summer, and share in the town’s development. Our style, our attitude says, ‘we want to be part of your world, give us a try, and let’s enjoy the things we can all partake in.’ It is important we remember this structure for what it was; a central meeting place for the people of St. Stephen back in the early days. I want to rebuild that vibe today. During the 30s, 40s and 50s, the station was a hub for congregation. When I first stepped in here last year, I could close my eyes and sense the people laughing and enjoying themselves. I heard the voices of past and future converge in this room, and thought, we need to bring life back to this building.”

Chef Lisa’s menu reflects historic and familiar foods echoing traditional hearty Maritime fare updated and given just enough sexy twists to make it fun. “Of course, we will be introducing cool apps and mains…after all, this is a brewpub as well.” That component is a key ingredient to the success of Five Kings. We will have onsite brewing tanks, visible in the dining area, along with a full time brew master. The facility to purchase “growlers” (large glass beer bottles) will also be unique to the area. “A customer can leave with a few growlers for home, enjoying freshly brewed beer from Picaroons, then return at a later date to have them refilled.”

“Our restaurant is directly across from the market, so I want to go every Friday morning and pick the freshest ingredients offered during the season. It is so important we use as much meat, fish, seafood, dairy and produce from Charlotte County.” Her enthusiasm is contagious. She wants to be well received and accepted. Originally from British Columbia, Chef Lisa has spent most of her professional career in Charlotte County. Former Executive Chef at The Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews, she knows her way around the kitchen.

 

“I want this to be a memorable experience for everyone; a gathering place, just like a train station. We want to see people from both sides of the border, we are a family after all.” So what is the enigma of the Five Kings? The name comes from the address 5 King Street. But after meeting Chef Lisa, perhaps the restaurant should be more appropriately named Four Kings and a Queen.