Saint John City Market mainstay finds new owners

·3 min read
Saint John City Market mainstay finds new owners

A fixture of the Saint John City Market since the late 19th century has new owners.

Slocum & Ferris has had a presence at the market for 126 years, first as a market stall, then as a restaurant.

Former owner Dave Forestell, who co-owned the restaurant with Sherrie Boyd, said he had a lot of good times at the restaurant but is glad to sell the property to younger owners.

"We've just felt so lucky to be in the centre of the uptown in the centre of the building," said Forestell.

"It couldn't be any better than that."

32 years in the business

Forestell bought the business 32 years ago after seeing it for sale in the classifieds.

At the time, he said the city was just looking at building the indoor connection to the market and he saw the potential that could bring.

The founders of the business were farmers from Waterford, who would travel down river to the market to sell their wares.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

When Forestell bought the business it was still dealing in groceries, but as he settled into the business he found out customers' needs and wants had changed.

"We started out with the sausage on a bun and then we started out with some fried rice," said Forestell.

"All of a sudden we just built up our menu and eventually got out of the groceries."

Return of Saint John classics

New owners Joanna Killen and Corey Dugas are hoping to continue the business in much the same way it exists now.

Dugas said the majority of the menu will stay the same while Killen says new dishes will pay tribute to Saint John's culinary past, including a tip of the hat to a famous uptown eatery that closed a decade ago — Reggie's.

"We're bringing back the Reggie's bagel burger, which is just this like Montreal bagel, caramelized onions, cheeseburger," said Dugas.

"Also the Barton's hot dog. People who know the market well know Barton's used to be right next door to us … The big thing we're excited about for Corey is he's going to be the potato drill master. So those curly fries that you see at the exhibition on the plate, fresh out of the deep fryer."

The market holds a special place for Killen.

A self-proclaimed "market girl", Killen said her first job was at the market, and she's held several other market jobs over the past 20 years.

"It's really exciting to just use my life skills and like, come in here and do something really cool with this business and hopefully see it grow as the years go on," said Killen.

Missing tourists

Forestell said he plans to stick around for a bit to help the new owners adjust to the market and while he's happy to see new owners, he will miss meeting all the people who come into the market, both tourists and locals.

"I have to say, we really enjoyed meeting all the American cruise ship customers," said Forestell.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

"They were so nice to meet and, you know, you sometimes hear something about American tourists … they were always so nice to meet, they're the friendliest people."

Dugas says if renovations move as quickly as planned, he hopes to see the revamped restaurant open as early as March.