Penticton’s newest restaurant, Block 300 Casual Steakhouse, opens its doors to the public tonight for its first service. Owner Fred Trainor put countless hours into building the restaurant from the ground up in the skeleton of the old Elite Restaurant.

A new steakhouse in the heart of downtown Penticton is firing up its grill for tomorrow's first dinner service to the public.

Block 300 Casual Steakhouse owner Fred Trainor put countless hours into designing the restaurant from the old bones of the former Elite Restaurant after deciding it was time to retire from his fast-paced career as a real estate developer.

“I’m going to get out of the development business. I’m just too old,” he chuckled. “So I thought, ‘Then what will I do?’ And I couldn’t even tell you how ‘restaurant’ came into my head.”

His love of building from the ground up had Trainor scoping out locations to open his very first restaurant.

“This space became available and I thought, ‘I need to pull the trigger on this.’”

Being local, Trainor knows just how iconic the Elite Restaurant was in the community, and he wasn’t shy in paying homage to it: two shadow boxes on display hold old menus, uniforms and photos from the Elite’s early days.

And the Block’s executive chef, Barry Wood, just so happens to be the Elite Restaurant’s previous owner and chef.

“We found a (different) chef, a tremendously talented guy, but we showed him what we were going to serve our customers, and when we got (the menu) back from him, it was words I had never heard of before, and descriptions that people would go, ‘What is that? I can’t order that because I don’t even know what it is.’”

Deciding it wasn’t a good fit, it was a mutual parting of the ways for the Block and that chef, but the pieces seemed to fall into place when Wood stopped by one day to check in on the restaurant’s progress and agreed to help run the kitchen.

“He is tremendously talented, he worked 10 years for Earls, he opened a lot of Earls – so he has a very, very good background,” said Trainor. “He’s a super guy.”

One look at the menu and it’s obvious Trainor put care into designing it to be as local – and budget friendly – as possible.

“The reason that this is called a ‘casual steakhouse’ is because we want to get the message out that this is not expensive,” he said. “It’s good, it’s consistent and at manageable prices.”

Trainor plans on holding “beach parties” on the restaurant’s patio every Saturday, all day, featuring buckets of beer and food specials. An express lunch menu was designed for patrons who are on the go who need to be in and out as quickly as possible.

The Block, located at 340 Main St., opens at 5 p.m. Friday for dinner service, and regular hours will begin Saturday onwards from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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