Fish and chips Friday orders 'surreal' for Regina restaurants closed to indoor dining

·3 min read
Bushwakker Brewpub is serving Alaskan cod in Pilsner batter and halibut in IPA batter with a jalapeno tartar sauce on April 2.  (Bushwakker Brewing Company/Facebook - image credit)
Bushwakker Brewpub is serving Alaskan cod in Pilsner batter and halibut in IPA batter with a jalapeno tartar sauce on April 2. (Bushwakker Brewing Company/Facebook - image credit)

When the provincial health orders closing restaurants to indoor dining were announced last week, Bushwakker Brewpub bar manager Grant Frew was concerned.

The orders meant his restaurant would be closed for one of their biggest days of the year: fish and chips on Good Friday. Being limited to take out and delivery, the pub opened up pre-orders on Thursday and sold out for supper orders that night.

"This is definitely going to be the biggest year for fish and chip sales in our 30-year history," Frew said. "We really need the support in order to get through this."

The brewpub is only accepting phone orders after closing their online pre-ordering system. Frew said the large number of orders was a pleasant surprise and incredibly appreciated as the pub is currently surviving on government support.

"The whole pandemic experience has certainly been humbling, but it's been wonderful to see that outpouring of support and so many people coming by and saying, 'Hey, we're really glad to see that this is doing so well for you,'" he said.

"It's a wonderful experience. It's a surreal experience. Having all of our customers rally behind us, it's a really incredible feeling and we will get through this together."

It's a similar tale at Nicky's Cafe on Broad Street. Owner Perry Makris said it's been incredible seeing people stop in, pick up their food, chat and seeing the customers once again.

"It's been a very difficult, stressful year … But then you get a day like today and, you know, put a smile on my face," Makris said.

"It's not about the sales — especially in times we have right now — it's really about everybody coming together, everybody supporting local," he said. "They're not customers, they're friends."

Good Friday's fish and chips has always been a success story since Nicky's Cafe opened but Makris said he anticipates this year will be the biggest yet in the cafe's history. In 2020 they had 700 orders and as of 10 a.m. on Friday, there were already 600 placed.

"It's a mental health thing, too," he said. "It's a good boost for morality today and a good boost for everybody."

Orders came in steadily last night for the Lancaster Taphouse as swell. The general manager of the South Location, Ethan Bender, headed in early this morning to get everything organized and said he's excited to get to work.

"I actually think we'll have a significant uptick in sales this year compared to previous years," Bender said. "Typically on Good Friday, people are kind of doing stuff with their families and obviously we can't really do that anymore, so it's looking like a busy, busy day."

Bender said every order — big or small — helps the restaurant through this tough time. He said the staff are missing the human connection from in-person dining and appreciate every order.

"It means everything, it means the world," Bender said. "We're a place that really has built a foundation on supporting local and it just feels so good to get that support back from the community.

"We're all in this together, and this is one of those days that kind of reinforces that."