After over 15 years in the hospitality industry, Renaud Bissonette, is calling it quits.
Bissonette, owner of the Jolly Giant Pub in Willow Bunch has sold the business to St. Victor’s Dawn Lessard and partners Tim and Penny Dloughy from Assiniboia.
After a farewell weekend on May 25-27, Bissonnette turned the keys to the pub over to Lessard and Dloughys.
Bisonnette grew up in Willow Bunch, bartended a bit and worked as a carpenter in Vancouver and back in Saskatchewan.
Moving back to the area in 1996, Bisonnette, opened a restaurant and lounge in Assiniboia that he operated for 8 years. He then purchased the bar in Willow Bunch, now named The Jolly Giant Pub. After just over a year of operating both businesses, he moved back to Willow Bunch to concentrate solely on the Jolly Giant.
Bissonnette has also spent some time in public office. He was the Mayor of Assiniboia for 5 1/2 years and this fall will mark 6 years as Mayor of Willow Bunch.
Bissonnette has no solid plans, except taking a summer off, golfing, spending time with his companion Arlene Bushell. He plans to attend the annual country music festival in Craven.
Although Bissonnette will not miss working 7 days a week till 2 a.m., working weekends and the late night calls, he says he will miss the people that he sees every day coming in to the bar.
“Cooking for the people was great, serving them drinks, sitting down with people in conversation, was all good.
Coming in to the bar and not owning it will be a bit different.” said Bissonnette.
He is hoping to help out stick around Willow Bunch for the summer. “If any farmer needs a hand, give me a call. I am available on the 29 of May,” he said.
Bissonnette wrapped up by saying, “I just want to thank all of my patrons that have come around and supported me. I hope they have had fun, cause I definately have had fun. Fifteen plus years in the hospitality business is a long run and it’s time for a change.”
According to Bissonnette, he had no plans to sell the bar in Willow Bunch, but when Lessard approached him, he took her offer. As Bissonnette closes this chapter, Dawn Lessard is opening a whole new chapter for herself.
“I have always enjoyed the people so I might was well do what I love. The first 20 years you learn, the next 20 years you raise kids and this 20 is for me and I wanted to be something I enjoy. I love that atmosphere, I love people,” said Lessard of her decision to purchase a bar.
Partnering with Tim and Penny Dloughy from Assiniboia, who have been in the hospitality business for many years. Lessard is looking forward to the experience that Dloughys bring to the partnership. “I feel comfortable with the fact that they are pillars of the community in this department already. I am really looking to use the knowledge that they bring to the table. They are involved in the day-to-day operations, as with technology these days I can make a phone call or a text or an email and know what I need to know. What they have to offer is such a wealth of information, you can’t even put a number on it. We are going to be a support system for each other.” said Lessard.
Lessard is the mother to Mackenzie who is presently home for the summer from University and Vaughn who will graduate in June.
Mackenzie currently works for Dloughys at the 121 Steakhouse in Assiniboia, as well as Homestyle Interiors in Assiniboia. She plans to help out at the bar as well.
Lessard currently works three days a week for Optometrist, Dr. Richard Turriff and plans to continue, dedicating her evenings, days off and weekends to her new venture.
She sees no changes in the current staff at the bar.
Although she has some changes in mind for the pub, she says, “It’s a surprise!” when asked. “I am kind of going my the seat of my pants! It’s just going to have to fall into place as things play out.”
Lessard is excited to begin, “I can’t wait to see what we can do together as a community. I love small town and I just want to get going. This is a progressive little community.”
“I always felt very comfortable and at home in Willow Bunch. I can’t wait to get involved community wise. There are so many ways you can support a community.” concluded Lessard.