Red Deer’s Black Knight Inn has shut its doors after 40 years of operation, going into receivership six months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
A notice taped to the locked front door of the Black Knight Inn states that MNP Ltd., an insolvency trustee, has been appointed receiver of the hotel as of Aug. 7.
Receivers assess financial assets and operations to determine whether a business should be restructured, permanently closed, or sold.
The situation “is a real blow to the community,” said Red Deer city councillor and historian Michael Dawe.
Like many city residents, Dawe was a regular patron of the Black Knight Inn’s restaurant and a particular fan of its steak sandwiches.
The Black Knight Inn is one of a dwindling number of independently owned hotels in the city. It was built in 1977 and over the ensuing decades became a local fixture for conventions, dining and entertainment.
The eight-floor hotel — with 98 rooms, nine suites, an indoor pool, meeting rooms, Remington’s Grill restaurant and JB’s Lounge — also operated an events ticket office and was home of Central Alberta Theatre dinner theatre.
“It was an integral part of the community,” added Dawe.
The Black Knight Inn’s owner, Ken Mandrusiak, could not be reached for comment.
But the hotel industry has generally suffered from booking cancellations since the pandemic curtailed travel, business meetings and even restaurant traffic. “I heard all local hotels are operating at 10 to 20 per cent capacity,” said Dawe.
He praised the high-quality, community-oriented service approach taken by Mandrusiak and his 100-plus employees in the hotel, restaurants and banquet facilities. “It was a wonderful place.”
The hotel was known for hosting an annual Christmas breakfast, affordable Sunday night prime-rib dinners, and “so many other things,” said Dawe — including the CAT dinner theatres that ran in the banquet room.
Craig Scott, president of Central Alberta Theatre, said “We will sure miss (the Black Knight Inn) big time. It’s a hard situation all around.”
Scott, who considers the Black Knight Inn “a fixture, a stalwart in the community,” found out about the receivership on Sunday. Promoters who wanted to postpone events booked for the Memorial Centre had called to say they couldn’t get through to the Black Knight Ticket Centre.
Central Alberta Theatre and some other local events holders will have to explore other options for ticket sales when the pandemic lessens and entertainment events can be held again.
While CAT has no firm plans yet for where future dinner theatres will be staged, the group is considering Festival Hall, next to the Memorial Centre, as a possibility.