Obama Inspires Change At Kelowna Restaurant

January 27, 2009.

This may well be the oddest restaurant press release that has ever crossed our Okanagan desk. It is well written yet totally bizarre, and easily breaks through “the clutter” like a hot knife through foie gras.

Chef Rod Butters, the opening chef de cuisine at The Wick in Tofino and long the co-proprietor of Kelowna’s Fresco, is rebranding and renovating his restaurant together with partner Audrey Surrao, saying the new concept was inspired by Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the American throne.

But they’re calling it RauDZ.

This is a play – I’m guessing – on the letters of their first names (RoD, auDREY, and “Rod’s”), so the Obama thing I just don’t get. Are they trying to trick Obama-crazed journalists to cover the change, or were they actually so sincerely moved by his election that they decided to limit his message to a press release?

Oops, I just used the word “change”. Damn. It’s totally working. Must. Eat. At. RauDZ.

I make no judgments, as I was inspired as well (to take the day off and drink beer in celebration of his predecessor’s exit). I will, however, say this to the editors, journalists, and bloggers who might be reading this tonight: I will put a penny toward a special pony for you if you can include the word “Obamanagan” in your headline.

Wait, that might be a good name for the restaurant instead of RauDZ. Bring on the extra change! Because RauDZ sort of sounds like something the visiting Albertans would want to put “Hot” in front of, and obtusely naming a restaurant after yourselves is a little 80’s (more Mr. Mikes and Mr. Sub than Daniel, Hawksworth, or Jean-Georges). Maybe retro is still that cool. Who knows if this is change we can believe in?

Either way, Obamanagan is my gift to you.

Click the ad above to enlarge and then read the release below in full:

Inspired by the inauguration speech of President Obama, Chef Rod Butters and Audrey Surrao have embraced the call to action from the Commander in Chief and said “Change…Yes We Can”. Rod and Audrey are changing their own professional world by closing their four-diamond, award winning Fresco Restaurant. But like the rebirth of the United States with Obama taking office, they too have a rebirth in their future with the opening of an exciting new upscale casual restaurant, RauDZ Regional Table.

Just as Rod and Audrey have blended their talents in the successful Fresco venture, RauDZ, a creative amalgamation of the letters in their names, is their latest brainchild. The restaurant will be the perfect place to get together after work for drinks & appetizers or before an evening out in Kelowna for a custom created seasonal fruit martini. There will be local beers on tap, and the regionally focused wine list will enhance Chef Butter’s seasonally inspired, comfort food. The restaurant will continue to focus on fresh, local ingredients, all delivered with the knowledgeable service and attention to detail that everyone has come to expect from the dynamic duo of Butters & Surrao.

Over the next few weeks, the elegant interior of Fresco will be turned upside down & inside out, morphing into a warm and inviting space filled with cozy banquettes and booths. A new eating bar, flat screen televisions and a large chalkboard with favorite quotes from stars of politics, sports and film will lend fun & playfulness.

Butters & Surrao are delighted to make this dramatic transformation while Fresco is at the top of its game. 2008, a year of stellar achievement for this dynamic team of restaurateurs, has included awards from EatBC! (Restaurant of the Year), Vancouver Magazine (Gold – Okanagan), and the Four Diamond Award 2009. On the heels of that success, Rod and Audrey will embrace their next adventure and, like Obama, say “Change…Yes we can” RauDZ Regional Table is the realization of their personal dream to have a contemporary restaurant filled with friends & neighbors enjoying fresh local dishes served in a comfortable, relaxed space.

In the words of food and arts critic Jurgen Gothe, “Butters is the consummate Canadian-born, Canadian-trained, Canadian chef, the kind that will… create what we’ll come to call Canadian cuisine.” And Rod is doing just that, one restaurant at a time.

Yes You Can.


Andrew Morrison is a west coast boy who studied history and classics at the Universities of Cape Town and Toronto after an adolescence spent riding skateboards and working in restaurants. He is the editor of Scout Magazine, the weekly food and restaurant columnist for the Westender newspaper, a contributor to Vancouver and Western Living magazines, and a proud board member of the Chef’s Table Society of BC. He lives and works by the beach in Vancouver.


  • Irishgirl

    This whole concept just comes off as weird to me.

    Fresco was a bad name to begin with for an upscale restaurant. (Especially for those who have spent a lot of time in Vancouver and grew up with the “Fresgo Inn”.) But to change to such an esoteric name that leaves one wondering how to pronounce it? For the sake of change or re-branding?


  • Scout Magazine

    I’ve only ever heard fantastic things about Butters’ food, so I hope once all is said and done and the first plates are served that the branding is forgotten and the evening is enjoyed.

    Still…I’m with you on the weird.

  • http://www.raincoastcafe.com Leigh

    dare I say “mid-life you-know-what?”

  • ThomasV

    “Come gather ’round the bong and listen to my wicked awesome idea!”

  • Alison

    LOVE it!!!!!!!

  • David

    I love the name!
    Change with the times and you’ll come out a winner.
    Everything Rod and Audrey touches turns to gold.

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