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Fundraiser planned to support rebuild of Bentley's landmark Monkey Top Saloon

Two local couples have purchased the property and are calling on the community to help fund a re-build of the venue

It wasn't long after Bentley's Monkey Top Saloon burned down this past winter that Sylvan Lake businesswoman and town councillor Kjeryn Dakin decided to take action.

She and her husband Kevin along with close friends Rosie and Randy Lunn purchased the property with the vision of rebuilding the much-loved landmark.

"When everyone saw the Monkey Top burn down, I think that there was a shared sadness," said Kjeryn..

"I think that restaurants, as a whole, have become community builders in towns. The Monkey Top is a place where the whole community would come to and (be) around, and it had also become an economic driver for the whole community, too"

Known for its lively atmosphere, the Monkey Top has hosted many events and celebrations since 1993, and Kjeryn said she soon started to think about the impact of the loss on Bentley and the surrounding area.

"Because my background is in economics, I saw how bad this could be for a small town like that."

It was a challenge to round up funding to make the purchase, as loans, for one thing, are hard to come by for a restaurant that doesn't exist, she explained.

So along with the Lunns, the Dakins put together personal assets and savings and are now directing those towards the Monkey Tops's reconstruction.

"Banks are hesitant to lend under these circumstances, especially to restaurants in a small community as we have already faced a couple 'no's' from the major banks," said Randy Lunn.

"Private lending can go as far up as nine to 12 percent in this economy. We are trying to earn as much as we can to put as much down as possible to be able to survive after we rebuild. So it’s up to us and our wonderful community to bring the saloon back to life,"

But more support is needed.

To that end, the couples are organizing a special fundraising event set for Aug. 24 at the Bentley Arena.

"We are trying to raise money by giving people an event, and thereby 'earn' the money by throwing a party," said Kjeryn.

She added that to make sure the new saloon reflects the community's vision, there will also be a voting opportunity on three proposed concept drawings. 

The community is invited to voice their opinion at the Aug. 24 event, which will include live music, food, and prizes.

"We will also be selling Monkey Top clothing all summer and fall as well to put towards the rebuild," she said. 

"We believe in the Monkey Top and have put our own homes up on the line for it. We have gone as far as we can alone and now we need to do a little more by putting on this event."

Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are available on Eventbright under the name 'Monkey Top Rebuild'.

They can also be purchased by calling 403-350-7110. Group and corporate table bookings are available as well.

"The Monkey Top Saloon isn’t just ours; it's Bentley’s saloon," said Kjeryn.

"This is an opportunity for everyone in Bentley to contribute to the rebirth of a local landmark."

Ten percent of the proceeds from the event will also contribute to renovating the community hall's stairs, she said.

"We are trying to get it (re-built) as fast as we can," she said, adding that there will be a series of events coming up as well to help generate further funding.

For more details, visit the Monkey Top Saloon’s Facebook page.

"Come out, show your support, and help shape the future of Bentley’s cherished gathering spot. Your voice matters, and together, we can make a difference. Let’s rebuild not just a building, but revive a piece of our community's soul."


Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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