Shirley's Snack Bar heads into 34th season

Jim Day
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Shirley Younker has been serving up cheeseburgers and other tasty fast food delights for 34 years at her snack bar on Brackley Point Road.

Shirley Younker opened on Brackley Point Road in 1980

Shirley Younker believes her cash register to be over 100 years old.

Younker bought the bulky metal box from the former Oyster Bed General Store when she opened Shirley’s Snack Bar along Brackley Point Road in 1980.

The register, containing a large crank on the side and big buttons that require a good stab to fully activate, seem to fit well with Younker’s business philosophy. She has never seen the need to change — or upgrade — just for the sake of change.

The fast food hut has not undergone any expansion over Younker’s 34 years of serving up comfort foods like hot dogs, burgers, fish and chips and ice cream.

Three steps will take a person across the tight confines of the white building with red trim while there is little room for more than a couple shuffles between the screened serving window and a refrigerator and counter at the rear of the place.

A well tucked ice cream refrigerator, a grill, fryer, microwave oven and counters complete the efficient kitchen that looks out onto a grassed property spotted with red tables and black chairs.

“It’s all I need,’’ says Younker, noting she never gave any thought to owning a year-round, indoor restaurant. “I don’t need a great big spot.’’

A small metal bench pressed against the snack bar serves as a popular shaded rest area for Younker.

She also likes to watch movies on her small DVD player during down time.

Younker needs both rest and a little entertainment to get through a seven-day-a-week run that has her arrive at work at 9:30 each morning to prepare the business for its daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. serving hours.

Bryer Younker says his wife is always eager to open up Shirley’s Snack Bar over the Victoria Day weekend. She is, however, quite spent when the business finally shuts down for the season about 18 weeks later.

“She puts a lot of hours in here,’’ he says.

Still, Younker says the time has flown by since she first snapped up the building that had for years been serving as a tourist information booth.

“It just creeps up on you,’’ she says.

After working about 15 years at the former Howes Hall Lobster Suppers (now an art gallery next door to her snack shack), Younker decided to start her own little business. She ran the operation for seven years just a short distance from its current location before having it rolled up the road.

The first few years she just managed to make ends meet.

She was able to improve her efficiency and grow her clientele — a mix of loyal locals and tourists that include many repeat visitors.

“Oh yeah, they keep coming back,’’ she observes. “I enjoy meeting all the people too.’’

Bryer adds the business “never made a lot of money but it always made a little.’’

Combined with his years of driving a truck (he still operates a sander in the winter), the snack shack has helped Younker and her husband enjoy a comfortable life.

Serving up tasty food in a good summer location has proven to a good recipe for success for Younker.

The cheeseburger remains the number one food item at Shirley’s Snack Shack. The restaurant goes through about 90 pounds of ground beef in a good week.

Younker believes she has been blessed with great staff over the years. That includes the 15 or so years her daughter Paula Delight and the approximately 25 years her sister Ida Stewart worked for her.

Today, she has a teen and a woman in her mid-40s helping out.

Younker, though, wouldn’t offer up her age.

“You don’t need that in there,’’ she informs.

She did concede, however, that retirement has crossed her mind.

In fact, she decided to call it quits after the 2013 season. Then the weather got nice, and she felt like going another year.

She may feel that way again next year and the following year as well.

“It will go on being year to year,’’ she says.

Organizations: Oyster Bed General Store

Geographic location: Brackley Point Road

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Recent comments

  • LA
    July 05, 2014 - 20:27

    It's always a pleasure to stop there on the way home from the beach. She deserves a happy retirement but I hope someone maintains this business, the bare-bones, non-pretentious aspect and great food is what keeps me coming back.

  • intobed
    July 04, 2014 - 17:08

    When I take my 91 year old mom out for a drive along the north shore, we always stop in for ice cream at Shirley's. A great place with wonderful people.

  • nitpicker
    July 04, 2014 - 17:03

    "Shirley's" has been a part of my beach experience for a while now. Will be there soon. Wishing continued success...

  • Sandra
    July 04, 2014 - 14:43

    This has always been one of the things I look forward to year after year!! Also one of the places I hope NEVER closes :) such great food! Cheers Shirley!!

  • townie22
    July 04, 2014 - 08:45

    Congratulations Shirley!! best cheeseburgers i've ever had. Shirley was nice enough to give me her phone number a few years ago, so when leaving the beach i just call in my order ahead, plus (traffic and traffic lights cooperating a bit) my food is still piping hot when i get back to town :)

  • Donna Butler
    July 04, 2014 - 08:11

    Wonderful story! Wonderful lady! I love to read stories like this. We're lucky to have such good food and good service. My mom (Lois) loves Shirleys Place.

  • brackley kid
    July 04, 2014 - 07:23

    Shirley is an icon to those of us who grew up in the community. From her delicious homemade cheeseburger platters, to the ice cream cones we always got there when coming home from the beach. Brackley wouldn't be the same without her!

  • neighbour
    July 03, 2014 - 22:12

    i live in the community and there are always people waiting to get food. i used to walk there with my dog and got the best service she would offer a doggy biscuit and cup of water to my dog while i waited for my food congrats shirley!!

  • Tracey Ford
    July 03, 2014 - 21:59

    Congrats Shirley, here is too many more years of great food in the summer. I love to stop at the little spots like you have in the summer instead of somewhere big, it just makes it feel like a summer outing.

  • cheeseburgler
    July 03, 2014 - 21:19

    Way to go Shirley...Congratulations on many years of Amazing food~Best Cheese Burger Platter for Miles and Miles~