Some P.E.I. restaurants choosing to expand despite COVID-19

·3 min read

With COVID-19 case numbers climbing in Atlantic Canada, it wouldn't seem the best time for a restaurant to expand its business — but two Island eateries are doing just that.

Terry Nabuurs ran Terry's Berries Food Truck outside of Lone Oak Brewing in Borden-Carleton this past summer.

Now, he has moved inside with a new restaurant called The Abby, named in honour of the passenger ferry MV Abegweit.

The restaurant opened officially Friday and will run year-round. Although the pandemic is on Nabuurs's mind, he feels this is the right time to expand.

"I think it's important to stay steady on the rudder and you know, try and keep going ahead. We're just going to be very cognizant of how the pandemic plays out here," Nabuurs said.

"We've been pretty lucky with some strong leadership, who have had to make some difficult decisions."

Lone Oak Brewing
Lone Oak Brewing

One of the things Nabuurs learned is how to keep contact limited and lineups smaller. The food truck stationed outside the brewery used a buzzer system. Customers were given a buzzer and when their food was ready, it went off, notifying them to pick up their order.

Nabuurs said he is implementing the same protocol at The Abby.

"If things change, we'll just adapt with those changes and continue on," he said.

Nabuurs said he believes local support will be enough to keep the restaurant going — something made more important by the heightened travel restrictions between the Atlantic provinces.

"When we came up here we were really hoping to get some local support and we have kind of been overwhelmed with how people have supported us," he said.

"I think people are more aware now of supporting local businesses then we have ever seen."

Nabuurs said he is grateful for local support and it is what is keeping businesses alive during COVID-19.

Contactless is key

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Nabuurs isn't alone in expanding his food offerings during the pandemic. Nimrods' is aiming to open a permanent location at the former Kentucky Fried Chicken location in Stratford in the middle of December.

The restaurant, normally found on the floating dock at Peakes Quay during the summer, opened a temporary second location there during Burger Love this fall.

"I think it is a bit of a scary time to be living in, especially in the restaurant industry," said Bruce Rooney, general manager of Nimrods'.

He said a key factor was that the Stratford building already had a drive-thru to provide a contactless option, so that people don't have to get out of their vehicles to pick up food.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

The drive-thru will give Nimrods' an advantage in this, its first year of winter operation, "having that convenient option where people can just pull on through and get on their way."

Nimrods' will also have a dine-in option, for use as long as public health restrictions allow during this stage of the pandemic.

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