New Union Street owners to stay the course

A change in ownership at Union Street Grill & Grotto won’t mean a new direction for the popular Courtenay eatery.

Zhao Zhengfu — front right

Zhao Zhengfu — front right

A palpable wave of relief has washed over the loyal customers of Union Street Grill & Grotto after it has become clear that a recent change in ownership won’t mean a new direction for the popular eatery.

The restaurant’s new owners say they have no intention of straying from the path that Union Street has followed for the last 20 years. That stability, in fact, is what attracted them to the restaurant in the first place.

“We were looking for a business that was well-established and successful, as well as involved in the community,” says Zhao Zhengfu, who purchased the restaurant with his wife, Weihong Liu, in July. “Union Street was the perfect choice for us. We’re very happy with how things have worked out, and we’re excited for the future.”

Zhengfu says he’s grateful for Union Street’s amazing employees, all of whom have remained and are helping him get acquainted with the restaurant. Several in fact have stepped forward into management roles.

“At the beginning, there were a lot of details to work out, but now everybody knows their role and things have fallen into place,” says Fannie Blanchett, who’s in charge of the Grill side and is one of three managers. “Obviously, to become managers means more responsibilities, but I think we were all ready to handle it. It was a great opportunity for us to challenge ourselves, be more creative and express our ideas while being totally involved in the business.”

Che Ligertwood, an employee who stepped into the role of manager of operations, says there are no immediate plans to change the menu or other aspects of operation. The focus, he says, is to keep customers happy by offering the same high-quality, fresh meals they’ve come to love, including Union Street’s extensive gluten-free menu.

On the Grotto side, Ligertwood says they will take advantage of recently updated liquor laws and introduce some sort of happy hour, and they plan to ramp up the live entertainment aspect by offering more opportunities for local artists.

“Union Street Grill and Grotto is a cornerstone of a vibrant entertainment scene,” he says. “We want to maintain and enhance that involvement, and to continue to support the community as much as possible.”

Located at 477 Fifth St., Union Street Grill & Grotto is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and take-out.

For information on daily specials and gluten-free and allergy-aware options, visit or call 250-897-0081.

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