Whitehorse loves its bars.
Consider how many there are, and how varied, for a town of 27,000 people. If you want to drink, at almost any time of day or night, there is at least one establishment that can tend to your needs.
But if you want a snack with your late-night beverage? Well … there’s always been the corner store.
That has always irked Gary Lachance, so he decided to do something about it.
The local crooner and purveyor of The Boiler Room’s karaoke fun has teamed up with Mario Rayo Jr. to take over the Volare Restaurant at the Skky Hotel.
“We had been thinking about doing something like this for a couple of years,” Rayo said, “but the other space up here (formerly a swimming pool cum convenience store) just wasn’t what we needed.”
When the Volare space became available, the duo jumped at the chance, Lachance said.
They’re keeping the name, but reinventing pretty much everything else.
“We stuck with the name because it has some appeal and good will already. But we decided to add the tapas lounge. The idea is that we can have sort of a dinner hour, but from nine to close we want to concentrate on smaller dishes. Someone can come at 10 or 11 at night and have a smaller meal,” Lachance said.
The idea is to pair quality tapas dishes with high-class music and art.
While Yukoners may recognize Lachance from his gigs running karaoke at the Boiler Room, he is also an accomplished musician in his own right, who frequently performs with some of Whitehorse’s classier, jazzier names.
And Rayo, originally from Chile, is a Spanish guitar artist with his own flair.
“My guitar is a classical guitar, but my style is my own,” he said.
The duo envision a quieter place for Whitehorse men and women to gather, away from the madding crowds, to enjoy the company of friends, a drink, and late-night meal.
“We want this to be a space where people can come to see acts like Fawn Fritzen, or Dave Haddock, Nick Mah,” Lachance said.
The restaurant will feature a full menu prepared under the careful eye of Daniela Sibaja. Born in Costa Rica, Sibaja comes highly recommended to Volare.
“Her parents operate Caribou Coffee, and she has quite a reputation,” Lachance said.
“When I was looking for someone, a lot of people recommended her. But Mario said he had someone in mind as well. Turns out it was the same girl,” he said.
The entree menu offers an assortment of dishes from fried tilapia fish to “mom-approved” roast Cornish hen, lasagna and beef kabobs.
But the real focus is the tapas plates, which are specifically designed to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or pint of beer and a table of friends.
Lachance said the idea for a cigar-lounge-meets-jazz-club venue came about because of his and his wife’s social circle.
“I have certain social perspectives about this room, and the kind of venue we want to achieve,” Lachance said.
He said he wants to cater to Whitehorse’s professional class.
“These sort of people are professional, they’re more mature. They’re teachers, they’re lawyers, they’re RCMP officers. They don’t have a venue to go to because it’s hard to go to a bar and then you’ve got half your clientele over on the other side watching.”
But music and food isn’t the only thing that will draw people in, Lachance said.
In most of Whitehorse’s watering holes, patrons are bombarded with loud pop music and the walls sprout flat-screen TVs like a teenager’s rock posters.
Lachance and Rayo have flat-screens of their own, but they won’t be broadcasting the latest hip check or celebrity gossip.
“We were thinking of using them to display a photographer’s work, or if we had digital copies of local artists’ work. They could just hang there quietly for hours, for people to enjoy,” Lachance said.
In the basement is a separate room that the pair plans to use for special functions like art openings and CD releases.
Volare is having an invite-only soft opening tomorrow night to test their wings, and assuming the take-off goes smoothly, it will open to the public on Tuesday.
Contact Jesse Winter at