Doctors Inn owners still hoping for reprieve

Eric McCarthy
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Jean Offer in The Doctors Inn private dining room.

Tyne Valley restaurateurs waiting to hear back after environmental health officer visited property in June

TYNE VALLEY — Owners of a by-appointment-only dining room in Tyne Valley remain hopeful the province will allow them to continue to operate beyond October.

Paul and Jean Offer have been serving meals out of their Tyne Valley home, the Doctors Inn, for over 30 years. It started with a bed and breakfast but in recent years they’ve dropped the inn portion of the business and continued to take reservations for small group meals.

They take just one reservation per day, select fresh-from the garden produce and fresh from the market meats

“We’re trying to get them to make a little niche for us,” Jean Offer said Monday, explaining she and her husband are hoping the department will “grandfather” them in because of their long history of providing the intimate and small group seating.

“This is part of our income; it helps keep us afloat,” she said.

A key issue with the department is that the meals are prepared in the same kitchen that the Offers use to prepare their own meals.

The Offers invited environmental health officer Joe Bradley to visit their property, which he did on June 25. The couple is awaiting a response from Bradley, hoping they can continue their service.

“We’re different than anyone else. Nobody else goes out in the garden and picks vegetables two hours before dinner.” Jean Offer of Doctors Inn

The couple operates a market garden on their Tyne Valley property and are regular vendors at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market. Government has given them the green light to continue selling at the farmers’ market the jams, jellies and other preserves prepared in their kitchen, but has given them until October to close up their private dining room.

Jean Offer said they have been receiving a lot of public support for their request to be allowed to continue operating.

Celebrity chef Michael Smith, she noted, even tweeted support for their cause: “What happens when the health department runs amok and loses common sense - Flush away 30 years,” Smith wrote.

Smith had stayed at the Doctors Inn and dined there while the Offers were still in the bed and breakfast business.

“We’re different than anyone else,” Jean Offer said. “Nobody else goes out in the garden and picks vegetables two hours before dinner.”

Offer said many diners, including a booking from Oregon, indicated they are aware this could be the Offer's final year in business and encouraged them to pursue their goal of remaining open. 

Geographic location: Tyne Valley, Charlottetown, Oregon

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  • Peter
    July 09, 2014 - 16:41

    A key issue with the department is that the meals are prepared in the same kitchen that the Offers use to prepare their own meals. Do Burger King, Dairy Queen, Harvey's, Maid Marian's, Merchantman, etc etc have a separate kitchen to cook their staff's meals in? If not... I want them all closed!

  • chephy
    July 08, 2014 - 17:14

    Oh, NO! They cook their OWN meals in their kitchen too?? All their patrons are clearly going to be poisoned because... ahem, wait... no reason? Because the owners are human too, not some kind of untouchables? And presumably do not sprinkle rat shit over their counter when they cook for themselves? What a RIDICULOUS piece of regulation! This is exactly the kind of stuff that kills small business and stifles economic growth in this country.

  • david
    July 08, 2014 - 12:30

    I have to wonder how does this place sell alcohol without a being licensed the same way other restaurants are? If you go eat at other restaurants they all have licenses to sell alcohol but this place sells alcohol without being licensed is this a bootlegging restaurant. I thought there was big fuss a few years ago and bootleggers were all shutdown.

  • I'd Rather Eat Here
    July 08, 2014 - 11:15

    I would rather eat a meal prepared from their kitchen even if they feed themselves. If you saw any restaurants kitchen you wouldn't want to eat at any of them. I would suggest their kitchen is considerably more sanitary than most restaurants.

  • Chris Coupland
    July 08, 2014 - 11:14

    Quote: A key issue with the department is that the meals are prepared in the same kitchen that the Offers use to prepare their own meals. I have worked in the food service industry for over twenty years and in every kitchen that I've worked, the cooks prepare meals for themselves (gasp) in the same kitchen. Not only that, but a lot of them then go out the back door into a greasy, garbage filled alley and smoke cigarettes. I can't speak upon the Offers' business directly as I am not that familiar with it but I suspect, given the recent egg fiasco that someone in the health department has a bone to pick with them. I know many restaurants with health practices that are far worse than what is described of the Offers and are allowed to operate year after year. Let's hope common sense will prevail.

  • Scarlett1942
    July 08, 2014 - 07:41

    Will this same ruling apply to all bed and breakfast establishments on PEI? If so, I think a lot of places will cease operations this year as not too many places would have the required equipment as identified by the environmental health department. Provincial officers should spend more time checking out larger facilities and leave these small business to operate as smaller establishments are certainly cleaner in all ways.

    • don
      July 08, 2014 - 10:03

      thats the problem the big guy is wanting to control everything and has the money to do it. and are forcing the little guy out and the government does as the money talks. you can not blame the inspectors they are just fallowing orders from the minister and who is that? doug currie. maybe there is a bigger business in the area that wants the business?