Ed Whelan has been in the restaurant business for over 50 years, 44 of those being with Mary Brown’s. However, in mid-January of 2017, Mary Brown’s declined to renew his franchise agreement, leaving Whelan with an empty building. He was among the first Mary Browns franchisees in Canada.
Whelan said he’s been making the best of it, though, and is now preparing to open a new restaurant in the building — Chicken Fritou.
This will be the first Chicken Fritou location in Newfoundland, something Whelan says he’s very proud of.
“Usually, when a franchise like this comes to the province, they’re going to come to one of the big cities like St. John’s,” said Whelan, speaking over the hustle and bustle of a new restaurant. “But they decided to come here, to the beautiful, historic town of Carbonear, and I personally couldn’t be happier with that decision. We’re very, very excited to introduce this lovely restaurant to the province.”
The Chicken Fritou franchise was founded in Quebec in 1993, and Whelan says they currently have around 240 locations scattered across Canada, including one newly built in Calgary.
Whelan and his company began preparing and renovating the former Mary Brown’s building in February, and he says this next step in his career is something he’s looking forward to. He expects the new business will benefit the community.
“I’ve always been a community-minded man,” explained Whelan. “We used to donate coleslaw to the United Church when we had Mary Brown’s here, and we’d always give back to the community any way we can. We’ll continue to do that, and anything we can, with Chicken Fritou.”
The closure of Mary Brown’s impacted around 20 employees, but Whelan said that a new restaurant in town is bound to provide people with jobs, as would any new business.
Chicken Fritou is a fried chicken restaurant, and Whelan told The Compass its menu is fairly similar to that of Mary Brown’s or KFC. He said he feels as though it will bring back fond memories to the residents of Carbonear who would frequent Mary Brown’s.
However, Whelan also told The Compass that he isn’t opening this restaurant to stir any bad blood with other local chicken restaurants.
“We’re not here to cause a fuss, we don’t want to hurt anybody else’s business,” explained Whelan. “This is something I’ve done my entire life, and want to continue doing. I love it, and I hope the people of Carbonear and every other community in the area is as excited as I am about Chicken Fritou.”
The restaurant, located on the turn to Forest Road from Columbus Drive, is in the final stages of preparation, and is looking at a summer grand opening.