Deer Lake loses independent restaurant

Paul Hutchings
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Owner blames fast food locations for closure of Café on Main

The Café on Main in Deer Lake closed its doors for good, with the owner citing the reason as the opening of several fast food restaurants.

DEER LAKE A local restaurateur says fast food outlets along Commerce Street and Nicholsville Road in Deer Lake have made it nearly impossible for independent food servers to make a go at business.

Judy Fletcher put a ‘For Rent’ sign on the window of her now defunct Café on Main on Main St. last week. She had closed it a month ago, then reopened for a few days, then decided to close down permanently when she discovered the cash register just wasn’t ringing.

“People are going to burger alley down there,” said Fletcher with a hint of bitterness in her voice.

“People don’t want to come off the highway too far. They’ll stay in that area with all the fast food restaurants and not want to come up this far.”

Fletcher is referring to the fact that in recent years numerous national chains have been added to the location just off the Trans-Canada Highway offering food choices to travelers. Burger King was the most recent, opening earlier this year, joining Subway, Tim Hortons, Pizza Delight and A&W, along with the locally owned Chinese food restaurant, Canton.

The Deer Lake Chamber of Commerce has stated in the past that the addition of the larger businesses adds to the tax base and helps in the economic expansion of the town.

But Fletcher said they don’t allow hungry customers to get to local flavours.

Chamber spokesperson Terrilynn Robbins said it was sad to see a small business go.

“We love to see existing businesses thrive and continue, but it’s a personal choice for them,” she said. “The smaller restaurants offer something that the fast food places don’t offer — home cooked meals and table service.”

Coun. Elmo Bingle, who is the Chamber of Commerce council representative, said he has not heard any official complaints directed to the chamber or council, but he did say that it can be survival of the fittest for business, especially in lean times.

Bingle said it is good that so many extra shops have opened their doors in the area in recent years, but there can be a downside.

“As you bring in one business it affects other businesses,” he said. “They’ll all survive in summer but in winter it is more difficult. Either prices drop or they lay people off.

“It’s a natural cycle of life.”

Fletcher said she may turn the building into office spaces but there will be no other restaurant created.

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway, Burger King, Tim Hortons Canton.The Deer Lake Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Commerce Street, Nicholsville Road

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