The Mill Pond in Carnarvon will be getting a $25,000 facelift later this year after being announced as the winner of the 2023 HALI Restaurant Makeover competition.

Hosted by ACM Designs, the contest saw the popular eatery beat out Truss Foodworks Smokehouse and Maple Avenue Tap and Grill for the prize. In a live video posted online March 20, Greg Luck, construction manager at ACM Designs, said just shy of 9,000 votes were registered between March 5 and 19, with The Mill Pond emerging as the comfortable winner.

“There was an amazing response to this campaign… which is another testament to the community and the love they have for these restaurants,” Luck said.

The money will be used to fund a design and décor upgrade for the dining room at the restaurant, located on Hwy. 35.

Mill Pond owner, Brad Archer, said it will be the first substantial renovation of the site in more than 30 years.

“I took over the restaurant in November 1992, and we haven’t changed a whole lot since then. This is going to be an interesting project. We’re going to have a lot of fun,” Archer said.

“One thing I don’t want to have happen is to change too much and lose the feel of the restaurant. Hopefully we can freshen things up a bit, modernize a few things… I’ve got chairs in here that people have been using for over 20 years,” he added, with a laugh.

Archer met with the ACM Designs team this week to discuss ideas. Sophie Creelman, marketing coordinator at the Haliburton firm, said she expects the renovation to be complete before the busy summer season. She noted the work will be documented, with videos to be shared online updating the community over its progress.

This is the second contest of its kind in the community following the Big Lobby Makeover held in 2020, which saw the $25,000 transformation of the front entry at Bonnie View Inn.

ACM Designs owner Andria Cowan Molyneaux said she places huge importance on these social responsibility campaigns, noting she feels obligated to invest back into the community that has supported her business for several years.

“A big part of our culture is understanding where we live and who we live with. We’ve been very fortunate over the last years to make it through COVID, grow as a company and be very successful. But it wasn’t the same for everyone,” she said. “We have chosen to reinvest in our community, care for and support these businesses.”

Other partners contributing to the makeover include Churko Electric, Kegel Heating and Cooling, Cordell Carpet, Emmerson Lumber, Yours Outdoors, Quartz Co. Surfaces, and Cambria Surfaces.

Archer said he was still coming to terms with the win and was blown away by the outpouring of local support.

“We owe the community a huge thank you. It’s great, and incredibly comforting, to know that there’s so many people behind us,” he said.