Frisky Whisky owner Cori Karountzos, left, and Frisky Whisky manager Marissa Bilcik. Photo: Aaron Hemens

Frisky Whisky owner Cori Karountzos, left, and Frisky Whisky manager Marissa Bilcik. Photo: Aaron Hemens

Creston’s Frisky Whisky wins two business awards in its inaugural year

The 1920’s style Speakeasy tapas lounge won the best in customer service for small businesses award, as well as the best in hospitality and tourism award.

Not even a year after first opening its doors, the Frisky Whisky Tapas Lounge took home two awards at the third annual Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Awards ceremony on Feb. 12.

“It feels pretty amazing for us right now,” said Marissa Bilcik, the manager of Frisky Whisky. “We feel all the love of the community and support here.”

The 1920’s style Speakeasy tapas lounge opened on Creston’s main street on July 2, 2020. They won the best in customer service for small businesses award, as well as the best in hospitality and tourism award.

Bilcik said that she didn’t have a doubt in her mind that the lounge would win the best in customer in service award, but admitted that she was shocked to find out that it had won the best in hospitality and tourism award.

“Because we were going up against businesses that have been in this town for so long, for us to not even be here for a year, it was such a great honour for us to win that one,” she said. “We thought we would definitely be a candidate for it, but we thought maybe in a few years we would win that one. Just to have that is so amazing.”

She added that winning these awards has inspired the business to take steps to open themselves up more to the community.

“A huge thank you to everyone who supported us through this time. It’s so hard opening during COVID as well,” she said. “We’ve definitely jumped through a lot of hoops, but we’ve been able to overcome everything that gets thrown at us.”

Lisa Ziebarth, the manager of Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce, said that she was pleased to see Frisky Whisky walk away from the ceremony with two awards.

“For a brand new business, operating a restaurant during COVID, that is amazing,” said Ziebarth.

The ceremony

Around 30 people tuned into the virtual ceremony on Feb. 12, which was hosted over Zoom. A total of 160 nominations were submitted, with nine local businesses earning an award.

While Frisky Whisky received two awards, Pealow’s Independent Grocer took home three awards: the best in customer service for large businesses award, the employer of the year award and the Chamber business excellence award.

“What was most exciting was that the nominations that we did receive were very varied. There was quite the diversity of businesses nominated, so we took that as very exciting,” said Ziebarth. “For every category, we got to see that it wasn’t just 10 businesses nominated. It was quite the diverse listing.”

In addition to having the award ceremony go virtual for the first time this year, it was also the first year that the nominations were done online by Survey Monkey, a web survey platform.

According to Ziebarth, about 90 per cent of the nominations were submitted online.

“I’m quite excited by that, and they came very quickly,” she said. “There was excitement and enthusiasm, and that to me means that the community was ready to celebrate the positive.”

With the year that we’ve had, she added that it’s important to honour the triumphs and successes of local businesses.

“It’s really important to have something positive and to celebrate, to take the focus off of the challenges and obstacles that we’ve all faced, and have something fun and positive,” she said. “It’s a great way to kick off the new year. Hopefully, we get to a point where there’s more normalcy in 2021.”

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