By Emily Stonehouse
Carnavon’s well- known Mill Pond has officially won the ACM Design’s Restaurant Makeover Contest, concluding the month-long voting craze. In total, there were just shy of 9000 votes cast for the online contest. “We were expecting less than half of that,” said Greg Luck, construction manager for ACM. The other nominees were Truss Foodworks Smokehouse and Maple Avenue Tap and Grill.
“It was a surprise,” Brad Archer, owner of the Mill Pond, laughed. “We were just shopping in Minden and I got a text from my friend congratulating me.” Archer’s partner, Kim Switzer, echoed the owner’s sudden shock at the win. “We had been watching all morning, waiting, and then suddenly it happened!” she said.
ACM Designs went live on Facebook on March 20 to share the news. “We went around to the finalists the last couple weeks,” shared Luck during the online announcement, “and we got a real sense of the community surrounding each restaurant.”
“Part of our culture here at ACM designs is understanding where we live, and who we live with,” said Andria Cowan Molyneaux, the founder and principal of ACM, “with our partners and with these shared understandings, we have chosen to reinvest in our community and care for and support the other companies.”
Throughout the voting, the concept of community was the core of the contest. “We can’t do any of these ideas on our own, and of course, being alone doesn’t really support our idea of community,” said Cowan Molyneaux, referencing the many partners who contributed to the final prize, and the follow-through with the renovations.
ACM invested in the Big Lobby Makeover a few years ago, which was won by Bonnie View Inn. Fuelled by the passion of giving back to the community, ACM once again approached Haliburton County Development Organization to pinpoint where they could dedicate their efforts this time around.
After a rocky few years, it was decided that the restaurant industry was a sector needing a little boost in the region. With that in mind, Archer is grateful that the support is coming at this specific time. “There’s definitely been some big ups and downs over the past few years,” he said.
The winner of the contest receives $25,000 for their dining area to put towards a full “makeover”. The renovations will be implemented and facilitated by ACM Design, but the owners of Mill Pond will have plenty of input. “There’s always room for improvement,” Archer said, “but we also want to make sure we don’t lose what the Mill Pond is.”
Archer has been at the head of the family restaurant for just over 30 years. He says that he is immensely grateful for the opportunity, and is looking forward to seeing how the designers can maintain the feel of the classic establishment while making the space more user- friendly and accessible for patrons and staff. “It would be great to do something new, but not different. We need to freshen some things up a bit, but we always want to make sure we don’t forget our original style.”
Sophie Creelman, the marketing coordinator for ACM shared that the next steps will be dictated by the Mill Pond. “Our design team has already been brainstorming, but the scope and timeline will be determined after we chat,” she said. Archer hopes the project will be completed by the summer, so the facility will be ready to go for the busy tourism months. Updates on the renovation project at the Mill Pond will be documented on the ACM social media pages.