It’s been a long time since mammoths have been in the Yukon valley, but a new one just appeared August 9, albeit in the form of a café. The Red Mammoth Bistro is Dawson City’s newest coffee and eating establishment, and they’ve hit the ground running.
Owned by Emilie Aubin and Paul Wettstein, the bistro is located smack in the middle of downtown Dawson. A porch with tables and umbrellas allows patrons to enjoy the summer air, while the inside is tastefully decorated in wood, tin, and black and white photographs.
Aubin, a Quebec City native, came to Dawson three years ago, with 12 years of cooking experience under her belt. She is a graduate of a cooking and pastry school in Quebec, and she is a certified Red Seal chef – a universally recognized and highly prestigious certification of apprenticeship in Canada.
While in Dawson, she found a job at the Aurora Inn, owned at that time by Wettstein. She says at one point, they started talking about opening up a café in Dawson.
“The demand was there for a café that’s open year round,” she says. “Once Paul sold the Aurora [in February] and was looking for a new project, we talked some more and then said, ‘Why not? Let’s do it.’”
Two aspects were important to Aubin and Wettstein: the café should be open during the winter as well as summer, and be accessible to everyone – adults and families alike.
“We want people to feel comfortable, like a living room. We were going for a clean, crisp look, but not too fancy,” she says.
The building they chose was a shell when they leased it. With the interior decorating talents of Wettstein’s wife Priska, the building was transformed into the Red Mammoth Bistro.
When asked where the name came from, Aubin smiles and says that on a trip back from Whitehorse with Priska, the conversation at one point turned towards mammoths.
“We were joking around, but I kept thinking about them,” says Aubin.
On a trip to Vancouver to buy equipment for the bistro, she ended up buying a large, red coffee machine, which is now featured prominently on the front counter.
“It’s a beast,” says Aubin with a laugh.
Putting together her thoughts about mammoths with the red coffee machine, the name of Red Mammoth came into being.
“The name is silly, but also powerful,” she says.
The café offers soups, salads and sandwiches at what Aubin feels are affordable prices. She buys local produce for ingredients as often as she can.
“I love going to the market and it’s important to support local farmers,” she says.
Aubin also insists on making the cakes and desserts from scratch.
Even though the café has only been open for a short time, the response has been overwhelming, says Aubin.
“It’s blowing my mind. People are coming in every day, sometimes three times a day,” she says.
“It’s nice to see people coming back. It’s become a social place. I couldn’t be happier.”
At the moment, the café is open six days a week, closed on Mondays. Once the summer season is over, however, the plan is to be open Monday to Friday, although Aubin is hoping to offer a weekend brunch at one point.
But for now, Aubin is satisfied with how things are going.
It’s great” she says. “It’s perfect.”
Red Mammoth Bistro is located on 2nd Avenue north of Princess St. in Dawson City. For more information, please email [email protected], or call 1-613-885-8430.