The owners of the Dancing Moose Café and Bayside Bed and Breakfast are packing it in after 14 years of business.

Debbie and John Doody are in the final stages of closing the transaction of the Old Town establishments and property, which sold for a bit less than the $1.5 million they had originally asked for.

Though the businesses have been for sale for about 18 months, John said it was hard to find a buyer who was the right fit.

“The buyer is a real estate entrepreneur. He has restaurateurs who are going to rent the restaurant. The restaurant sadly won’t continue as Dancing Moose. It’ll have a new name,” he said.

John asked that the buyer’s name not be disclosed until the sale concludes.

The paperwork for the sale is heading towards its final closure, but John said he and his wife just might make it to the 10-year mark since they opened the Dancing Moose, about four years after they bought Bayside.

“We’ve been operating the restaurant as of the May long weekend (of 2011). It would be 10 years.”

The previous owners of the two businesses were Mary and Wayne Bryant, who operated Bayside and Mary’s Tea Room since 1997.

When the Doody’s took over in 2007, the physical layout of the building was different and the area that eventually became the Dancing Moose wasn’t in the same form.

“We reconfigured it significantly,” said John. “(Mary) didn’t have commercial equipment for the kitchen. It wasn’t adequate for a restaurant. We had to change that all around. It was exciting to start up the Dancing Moose.”

Looking back at their 14 years of owning the businesses, John remembers it as a steadily enjoyable experience.

“It’s been a good run. It’s been very interesting. The café has been great. We’ve appreciated the local community and the support over the years. It’s a happy and sad reality to leave Yellowknife.”

Debbie said a highlight was watching the brand grow, seeing regular customers and serving them their popular cinnamon buns.

The long hours they logged were challenging, but that came with the job, Debbie said.

Like almost all businesses in the hospitality industry, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow to Bayside, taking away almost tourist bookings since March of 2020.

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Dancing Moose experienced a less drastic reduction in business and baking specialty cakes helped bring in some revenue.

If all goes according to plan, they will depart Yellowknife by the end of May and head to a countryside acreage southwest of Red Deer, Alta. where they plan to do some farming.

The explosion of COVID-19 cases in the southern province doesn’t faze them since they will be living in a rural area, Debbie said.

Over the years, several Canadian celebrities and dignitaries have visited the Bayside, Tea Room and Dancing Moose.

The Doody’s hosted snow birds pilots, former NWT premier Floyd Roland, MP Michael McLeod and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who held his pre-election party at the café in 2015.

Before 2007, guests for afternoon tea included former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and academic John Ralston; the late Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip; and Patrick Roach and the late John Dunsworth from the TV show Trailer Park Boys.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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