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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Recent comments

  • NikkiP
    September 30, 2013 - 10:28

    As a resident of Deer Lake I ate in at this restaurant only once, and brought my two younger children with me but there were no menu choices for the kids. I had to order them each a full meal at full price, which was fairly costly for the amount they ate. The food was pretty good, but unfortunately I just found it not kid friendly and we eat out lots as a family together. It is too bad they had to close down but I do believe the location is definetely a factor. Many travellers would probably find it easier to stop at the motel or Irving big stop right along the highway.

  • Kim
    September 30, 2013 - 07:56

    I agree Newf, my family had take out from this restaurant only once and I had to cook my husband and son something else to eat and given the price needless to say we did not return. It is sad to see a business not succeed but they have to be accountable for their failure as well. I would love to see a really nice family restaurant come to Deer Lake, on Friday my husband and I drove to Corner Brook to eat because we didnt want fast food and I am sure we are not the only ones who do this.

    • Gmo
      October 02, 2013 - 07:24

      You don't have to travel all the way to Corner Brook for good food @ Good Prices. The best kept secret is what used to be the family Restaurant In Pasadena. I don't know the name of it but if you want Excellent Service at a fair price and really good meal, try it you won't be disappointed. The only complaint I would have is that they close too early in the evenings.

  • Rita Wyatt
    September 29, 2013 - 19:44

    You are so right Judy . I certainaly understand your concern.The Town of Deer Lake left us with nowhere to turn with our little summer business.Also, they depleted three full time seasonal jobs in addition to both our winter survival by not letting us re-open our D@R Takeout the past summer season.It's a wonder we even got to operate there at all as each and every year we operated there we had to almost get on our knees and beg to get back there. There was so much talk about the intersection change there it would expect you to be faced with bull dozers and trucks there all summer. In actual fact if anyone were to go there with a measuring tape and check out the space they took in the location we used to operate in , it would be clearly understood that there should have been much more consideration taken before we were booted away.After experiencing the traffic flow there the past summer I see no reason why we were denied as I'm sure the taste of our NL traditional food and the spinoff from the wages could have easy been accommodiated.We are left with the assumption and certainally believe as many of our past local and returning tourist costumer's feedback have given us the confirmation of our thoughts as to what the real motive behind the madness really was. In ending , let me address to anyone reading this comment that we have the freedom of privately and surely believing what the real reason was.

  • newf
    September 28, 2013 - 19:47

    The success of a restaurant largely depends on the quantity and quality of the food in relation to the price.

    • Tony
      September 30, 2013 - 10:44

      That is not true, because the quality of the food at these fast food larger chains is far below the quality of food one would receive from this privately owned establishment. Location has something to do with it, and over all competition when Canadians can buy garbage as long as it is fast they go for it.

    • Information-Based
      September 30, 2013 - 13:54

      That theory only holds AFTER you get customers in the door. Sadly, fast food is way more likely to bring in transitory customers because of the relative comfort of a recognizable name, however mediocre the offerings.

  • Former Visitor
    September 28, 2013 - 08:07

    I think the service or lack of service and the quality of the food was the downfall here. I have yet to visit Burger King or KFC but I have to say that on the several occasions I tried this place, everything was a disappointment. It is too bad because Main Street could have used a nice restaurant for lunch times and nice switch from fast foods.

  • IAMtheJIB
    September 28, 2013 - 07:47

    The solution is simple Judy Fletcher. Provide a better product, that people want, at comparable pricing. If you do exactly as I said, your business will flourish.