This was possibly the first time in years that 1584 BC-99 had absolutely no lineups on a Tuesday afternoon.
On June 4, the parking lot was unusually sparse, and the landmark sign that usually adorned the side of the highway no longer had the familiar Mag’s 99 restaurant logo.
In the building that formerly housed the widely-loved eatery in town, workers were busy making the facility’s latest reincarnation a reality.
The doors offered some foreshadowing. A patchwork of stickers on the glass showed pictures of the chef’s dog, Beans, wearing a sombrero. On each of the stickers was the name of the new restaurant that’s slated to open its doors at this location — Sunny Chibas.
Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina, formerly at this location, closed last week. Owner Melody Magaton told The Chief at the time that Mag’s 99 will soon be launching a food truck locally and eventually reopening in a new location in Squamish.
The new Sunny Chibas enterprise is being spearheaded by two former Mag’s employees who’ve joined forces with a prominent local businessman.
Diana Frederickson and Aaron Lawton both had managerial roles in Mag’s, and Lawton was responsible for the recipes that grew on locals’ taste buds.
They will be resuming that dynamic at Sunny Chibas, named after Frederickson noted Lawton’s love of Japan. It’s also a reference to a famed Japanese actor, and a 1990s hip-hop artist from rap group Camp Lo.
“Came up with a new name, we’re going to have a bunch of funky new concepts, and we’re going to blow the roof off this town,” said Lawton.
“The main focus is still going to be a Mexican fried chicken joint.”
“We’re moving forward,” he added. “Of course, I’m a chef, so I’ve got to bring a couple new, exciting things, but, you know, our core menu is still going to have the favourites.”
A spicy chicken recipe will be added, Lawton said, but he declined to reveal any other new menu items.
Joining them is Scott McQuade, who is locally known for his ventures in real estate. He previously owned the Hotel Squamish building in downtown.
In the not-so-distant past, it was discovered that the lease for the Mag’s building would be up for grabs.
McQuade, recognizing a business opportunity, signed on to become the leaseholder and partnered with Frederickson and Lawton.
“I know that these guys are proven operators,” McQuade said, when explaining his decision to join with them.
Frederickson said McQuade’s offer came at the right time, as both she and Lawton were thinking of moving on.
“It was time for both of us to move on to do our own thing,” she said. “We wanted to create our own business that was us. Have the freedom to do what we needed to do for the business.”
She said their new restaurant will also be keeping with the Mag’s tradition of doing work in the community.
“Sunny Chibas is going to continue to do that, we’re going to continue to do our fundraisers, Community Christmas Care, we’re going to continue to do the schooling fundraisers,” said Frederickson.
“We’re going to keep doing everything we’ve been doing in the community. New name, similar flavour.”
A soft launch will take place on July 1.
“We’re super excited,” said Lawton. “This is a big thing for us.”