Montague restaurant wants seasonal snack trucks to move away

Steve Sharratt
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Sir Isaac’s restaurant says proliferation of snack trucks unfairly takes away business from year-round establishments

MONTAGUE – A well-known restaurant here may be whipping up P.E.I. burger love this month, but it isn’t getting much back when it comes to the invasion of the snack trucks.

Anne Dewar, owner of Sir Isaac’s restaurant and Mr. Gabe’s Pub, is asking the town to stop the proliferation of snack trucks lining up to surf for business along the town waterfront this summer.

Especially, she says, since they glean the summer cream while she and other food service operators function on a year round basis, employ people, and pay taxes.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Dewar. “And if it keeps up, I may not be able to stay open year round.”

A seasonal fish and chip truck that opened on the waterfront just below her facility last summer is not only eating into her business – but those same customers then walk up the hill to her operation seeking restroom relief.

The businesswoman said there must be something the town can do to prevent trucks with fryers and grills from parking along the waterfront and selling their wares at the peak of the season from June until September.

“All they need is a (provincial) health sticker’’ said Dewar, who operates on the southside of the river. “They don’t need to provide washrooms, seats, or even pay taxes.”

Town council was told it should consider at least regulating such operations to the north side of the waterfront where public washrooms are currently available. It’s expected as many as three snack trucks could show up this year.

“I understand this situation, but we don’t have a vendor policy,’’ said Coun. Jim Bagnall. “And such seasonal operations are under the jurisdiction of the waterfront corporation.”

While the town owns the waterfront and marina, the operations are controlled by a volunteer waterfront corporation, which is now in turmoil since the town is attempting to disband it.

Bagnall encouraged the restaurant owner to take her concerns to the Waterfront Corporation annual meeting Wednesday night. Dewar, whose P.E.I. burger love promotional entry is a past winner, said she has spoken with the group about her plight and so far, has garnered little support.

Dewar led a charge a few years ago against a government signage law which she said was discriminatory. The provincial policy restricted her from advertising her Sir Isaac’s restaurant on anything other than approved government highway signs even though her business was within the town boundaries. She defied the law and parked a pickup truck with a large sign advertising her business at the entrance to the town. The province has since relented and changed the law.

“This fish and chip guy is parking down by the water with a lovely view and next to benches provided by the town for locals and visitors to enjoy….. and I lose business,” said Dewar who hosts a free turkey dinner for those in need every Christmas. “And I expect more (seasonal snack trucks) will be coming this summer.”

Some councillors said a bylaw or policy should be enacted right away.

“We should really look into this,’’ said Coun. Debbie Johnson.

Mayor Richard Collins said the town would take the issue under advisement and await the outcome and opinions of the Waterfront Corporation meeting.

Organizations: Waterfront, Town council

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Recent comments

  • wayne larter
    April 16, 2014 - 05:50

    I have to agree with Ms. Dewar on this one. She pays taxes(Many taxes)to be able to .operate. She has much overhead(staff,heat, elec. etc.)If the town of Montague continues to allow this without more stringent regulations, then Montague, the beautiful may be re-named Montague,Snack truck Paradise.Just consider, how much tax revenue etc. will be lost if she and others had to close their businesses. Just my opinion.

  • islandgirl
    April 15, 2014 - 18:00

    Typical island folk. People who live in the real world realize that there is always going to be competition. Get over it honey! Maybe if you served decent food you wouldn't be in this situation. If they give the food trucks hassel than I guess no one can ever open any other business because montague has what it needs. No one stopped that big new hotel from going up, I wonder if it will hurt the B&B's around montague.

  • april
    April 15, 2014 - 17:29

    Not saying much for your restaurant when your worrying about a fry truck hurting your business! Haha Would like to have more options for dining out in Montague but I've tried Sir Isaacs a few times and gave up on them

  • suck it up, stop whining
    April 15, 2014 - 17:24

    I have to agree Anne's whining is turning me off from every giving her restaurant another chance. Is she scared of the a little competition? She should be because the prices for below average food is going to have customers looking for another really looks bad on her that she's sooking about this. Food trucks are a great option for a quick bite but there are times that someone wants a nice eat in restaurant and Sir Isaacs could be that place if she would take all the advice she's getting on here and do something about it. It would be very sad to see another empty retail space in Montague, hopefully she doesn't give up because there is potential for success but she needs to make a lot of changes. Do some research on what the successful restaurants are doing, treating your staff better might help too...heard some horror stories about working there..

  • MontagueNeeds
    April 15, 2014 - 17:19

    seriously ? Montague needs all the diversity it can get be it more options for food or any other activity/products . The town is a beautiful place in the summer but lacks options greatly, competition is healthy maybe you should play fair and step up your A game . You sound like a child who can't get over the fact that no one wants to color with your crayons so everyone should stop coloring , grow up !

  • adam L
    April 15, 2014 - 16:59

    Woa wait? Sir isaacs is still open? Anytime i go by all i see is a closed sign. I have ate there twice, once when it first opened(terrible food. Reasonable service ) second time a year or so later (poor food and poor service) am curious to try the pub but it is never open!

  • We love you Anne but...
    April 15, 2014 - 16:39

    I've wanted and tried to support this restaurant but after a number of poor meals at high prices I've given up. Unfortunately, this is what I've heard from everyone else I've spoken to about it...we all want to support her but feel ripped off. Small portions, high prices, poor service & most important - food that is, at best, mediocre. Montague wants to support you Anne...we really just need a good reason to go back to eat!

  • Demographics
    April 15, 2014 - 16:23

    In my entire life I have never heard of a sit down-eat in restaurant worried by a French fry truck. ( btw- i have lived in numerous cities both large and small). Somehow the argument that they are taking business away seems lame. People who want just fish and Chips probably wouldn't frequent her establishment anyway (unless she stakes out these places and sees her regular customers there). I would expect there is a myriad of other reasons why she's worried about healthy competition.

  • Westerner
    April 15, 2014 - 16:15

    I really hope that the owners of the this restaurant read and take heed of any comments that could be constructively used to improve their business. I totally disagree with the idea that food trucks are bad for business. Competition is healthy. More food choices lead to more visitors for your community. If you are losing business, then step up your business. Advertise, promote! Serve a better product! I listened to an interview with her on the radio noting that she said advertising is expensive. Well how else does she expect to attract business? Perhaps visitors coming into use the washrooms are actually good for business if some specials were displayed and they were treated great. People generally eat more than one meal. Or simply do what most businesses do and put up washrooms are for customers only signs. I find it is this close mindedness that limits our island and puts small communities at disadvantage. I know this restaurant does a wonderful thing serving it's community with the annual festive meal. But find out why you are losing business to a local food truck and change it.

  • Reality
    April 15, 2014 - 14:06

    The current state of Sir Isaacs is the product of somebody liking the idea of having a restaurant because they've always been told their home cooking is "to die for". The food is exactly what I would expect from my grandmothers kitchen. Plain, under seasoned, simple but the prices are fine dining. We live in the land of fresh seafood, but like many small town dining establishments, the food is often processed & directly from the grocer rather than its source. I have been to very few restaurants here where the potatoes are fresh, most being frozen McCain or powdered. I can forgive many things however when the small things like ice for my water or WonderBread turned into garlic toast are options, I could have saved myself $20-$30 and ate better at home. People are turning out better quality & a variety of food from an old bus. They smile & thank you for your business. Lots to be learned here.

  • Terry
    April 15, 2014 - 13:01

    I have eat @ this restaurant and had bad lobster there and that's why I don't go back but the nachos were great ,service was soso but turned of by the bad lobster!

  • former customer
    April 15, 2014 - 13:00

    What's killing your business isn't food trucks, its terribly small portions of mediocre food at insanely expensive prices! I personally eat at these food trucks (and have never went to your business to use the washroom or anything of the sort) and will continue to do so because they have good food, generous portions and are reasonably priced

  • Shame On You People
    April 15, 2014 - 12:15

    Shame on you people , Anne has done nothing but good for this town & you abuse her . If I was her , I would close it up & say to Hell with Montague , she doesn't need this . Why in God's name should she have to provide bathroom services for these people & I believe you will find that she can't refuse by law . I say , Anne , close it & try to sell the building so Montague has another empty building on Main Street that can only be used by A Government Dept. like Somers . The way things are going in Montague , that's all that will be there in a few years . But hey , someone will come up with a flee brain idea for the building & suck the government into a two year (give me money plan) . Quit , Montague does not deserve a good person like yourself . They should take a serious look at the past record of this restaurant & realize how many people tried & failed in a very short time . They should be helping you , not assisting the fly by night competition .

    • We aren't
      April 15, 2014 - 16:07

      We are telling her why her business is failing. We've all been there to eat a meal. We never returned. She should be pleased we are letting her know why.

  • montague resident
    April 15, 2014 - 11:40

    As one of the former employees of this restaurant, I too, believe that if she knew how to treat her staff (kitchen included) then they would be a lot happier serving guests. Its hard to keep a smile on your face when your berated behind the doors for using too much hot water, or not being stingy enough with portion sizes. She should look at herself first before going public for sure. Turnover rate for staff highest I have ever seen in my life.:(

  • Hahahaha
    April 15, 2014 - 11:30

    Of course she's worried about competition, for the portion size and quality of food at her restaurant, her prices are RIDICULOUS! Get off your high horse and put forth at the least a lame effort to compete. You dont have to worry about me or my families buisness, we had no intentions of returning.

  • Free Market
    April 15, 2014 - 11:00

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

  • lemonade
    April 15, 2014 - 10:44

    ok !!!! better tell your kids !!!! that's it !!!!! no more lemonade stands in Montague !!!!!

  • If what is said is true...
    April 15, 2014 - 10:01

    @Local customer and @BS, Regardless of your opinion toward the food or service at this restaurant, the owner has a valid complaint. I don’t get back to Montague the Beautiful as much as I would like, but if I remember correctly there are no other eating establishments on that side of the bridge. Any competition is going to take away from revenue of other like businesses, but if one business is getting an unfair advantage then the other businesses have a right to complain. If they can setup and sell food with very little overhead (Rent, taxes) and have the town supply seating and a clean environment. The town council needs to address this ASAP. That is why they were elected to their positions. The town does not have vendor policy. The town didn’t need a vendor policy in the past, they do now. I have no issue with the food trucks setting up shop at the waterfront. I’m all for more activities and/or businesses drawing people into Montague. However, a vendor license should be needed and they should be paying the town taxes for the right to setup shop with town limits and use town resources. Now if the food truck was paying the town taxes or a fee, like one poster has said, then that changes things. If the playing field is level then it’s just sour grapes. The food industry fickle industry and you need to keep reinventing yourself to keep your market share. All in all the town council needs to resolve this one way or another and soon.

    • the bridge
      April 15, 2014 - 10:11

      That isn't a big bridge to cross to eat elsewhere & most do prefer to cross the bridge to eat elsewhere. This restaurant has always had a huge problem re service & food. It is the worst place I've had a meal in. 0 service. Cold food that looked inedible & was tasteless. It does not have a good reputation at all. Ate there once. Never again.

    • The Truth
      April 15, 2014 - 10:31

      Fun on A Bun did in fact pay a rental fee to be there. I will tell you McDougall's when they were where Sir Isaacs is, they were booming... Only other place in town at that time that was as busy was Gillis' and I don't remember there be any conflict between the Lobster Shanty and McDougall's!!! Work together to prosper people!

  • The Truth
    April 15, 2014 - 09:16

    The 'snack truck' that was located on the North Side of the waterfront paid rent to be there, they were licensed by the Province! They offered HOT, TASTEFUL FOOD!!!! With great service and a smile, no whining like you get when visiting Sir Isaac and all that 'woes me'. I personally have never heard so many complaints about one restaurant, I honestly feel for Anne but only one person can change the way she runs her business and make it successful. There could be 50 restaurants in Montague and if you offer great hot food, good customer service with reasonable prices you wouldn't be complaining about anyone else. Unfortunately Anne always ends up in the paper in a negative way aside from the great Samaritan she is by giving up her Christmas Day to provide a hot meal for those less fortunate or lonely. Advice is to get a good cook, good portion size and friendly attentive wait staff maybe even take a step back yourself and see all the good things that will happen. I bet that snack truck owner only wishes good things for Your business because when people are treated properly in our little town everyone talks and spreads the word that these are places you have visit or eat, etc... It works just like our rumour mill does and everyone does well. Perhaps if Anne were more approachable and could handle feedback or constructive criticism we wouldn't be reading this story. This is sad.

  • lee
    April 15, 2014 - 09:04

    suck it up it,s a dog eat dog world out there every man 4 him selph

  • Great
    April 15, 2014 - 08:45

    The Montague mayor and councillor Bagnall are all anxious to control the waterfront - but apparently only when things are good. First sign of conflict- they turn if back to the waterfront corporation!! Can't have it both ways boys!!

    • Make some sense
      April 18, 2014 - 16:41

      What does this have to do with the waterfront corporation. All the article says is that if rules were to be changed that right now it would have to be done by the waterfront corp. It just sounds like those are the rules. Plus why would any one deny a friendly and popular business the right to serve food in Montague.

  • Karen
    April 15, 2014 - 08:43

    Don't be like summerside now. No trucks allowed there and crappy fast food is all that is available. Have to go to charlottetown for resturants of any quality on pei.

  • Fun on a Bun
    April 15, 2014 - 08:06

    First two words that come to enterprise. There are over twenty places in Montague where anyone can buy a meal, it is solely up to the consumer to make their own choice; if they feel like spending their money at a chain franchise or local business, well, that's up to them. Food trucks are a trend that have been becoming more and more popular worldwide, and should only continue to do so. Great food, reasonable prices and service with a smile, those are just a few things that are offered on the waterfront of Montague this summer. Hope to see you there!

  • whinemuch
    April 15, 2014 - 07:37

    I don't usually comment on here, but was annoyed and shocked by this article. People from away always tell me how amazed at how much good cuisine PEI has to offer. I agree and this goes with food trucks as well, which is a growing trend and a very popular one world wide. You see competition can be healthy. Embrace it. Put a sign up saying restroom is for customers only if you wish, but you. Can expect these other vendors to move or be moved because you as one restauranteur struggle with the notion. I would say if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen! Move your business if you want exclusivity. Shame on you. And shame on Montague IF they follow through with notions set forth in this article.

  • Jimmy Buffet
    April 15, 2014 - 06:50

    I would like to see the snack truck set up at Pooles Corner then I could avoid Montague altogether! Best fish and chips on the Island and always a pleasant exchange and genuine kindness.

  • another customer
    April 15, 2014 - 06:39

    At dinnertime people are looking for faster food service as well as great prices. I have never been to the fish and chip guy but hope he comes back this year so I can check him out. I hear his food is amazing and the service is great and that he is also a local guy . I have however been to Sir Issac's on a few occasions and have left dissatisfied. Once myself and a few co workers stopped in for lunch one day and waited over an hour for our food . We are not allotted over an hour for lunch so we never returned. As for burger love Sir Issac's was on my list to try but the whining is making me reconsider! There is nothing worst than a business owner complaining about fairness. At one time you were the new establishment who drew customers away from other establishments if service and food was good than word of mouth would have been all the publicity you needed.

  • Snack truck
    April 15, 2014 - 06:29

    It's called competition, find a new way to attract customers with marketing and promotions...stop blaming a snack truck for your failing business. As many locals have said your food isn't that great. Whining like this isn't going to make people want to spend their hard earned money at your establishment. It's negative publicity for you and positive for the food truck operator.

  • justin
    April 15, 2014 - 06:17

    it is quite simply "business'!! the snack truck has just as much right to make sales any time of year as her! I for one have just decided to never eat at her restaurant again! I am not a weekly customer but any time I have a construction project near there than myself and my guys go there for about 5 days a week for my 6 or so jobs per year that do there!

  • don
    April 15, 2014 - 02:05

    chapter p-30, public health act. Eating establishments and licenced premises updated 2011. your statement ““They don’t need to provide washrooms, i think you should reread section 28 (1) and (5) plus section 29. you say there is tables that the town has well you need to check your statement before you open your mouth. I agree with you but after some of the remarks about your place. Clean out your closet before whining about others. And to set up a proper snack truck is not cheap. You need to meet the same rules as you do to get a licence. Please read the rules and regs. another thing i wonder is your place the oldest in your area? If not how do you think the other places felt when you opened up and taking away there customers?

  • Fish Stick
    April 15, 2014 - 01:47

    Anne should not have to worry if her food is up too par,I had the smallest fozen fish sticks there once,and will not be back,looking forward to the Fish and chip truck,yummmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • David
    April 15, 2014 - 00:47

    So now she wants the laws to protect her but when she disagrees with them she breaks them herself. Hard to have any sympathy for someone who doesn't mind breaking laws when it suits her. Other towns do have laws which sets fees for operations like the snack trucks. Maybe Montague should have something similar to what Charlottetown has for the hotdog vendors.

  • Local customer
    April 14, 2014 - 21:15

    I'm sorry as a member of the community I want to support local but whining like this makes me change my mind. Recently went to sir isaacs for supper and not one person got there order right. Maybe you should look in house instead of pointing fingers at other businesses

    • Local
      April 15, 2014 - 06:42

      I agree I dont think the fry truck has anything to do with her lack of business. Ate there a few time and will never go back.

    • don
      April 15, 2014 - 10:15

      local. maybe she should have customers cards as to what they think of the service,food,etc. all it takes is a bad server to kill a place. yes her xmas idea is great but anyone will go for a free meal but are they going back when they have to pay? i think before she gets the beach towel out she better look at her place and service 1st. ask the customer they know more then she does.