Drinks with a view

P.E.I.’s first rooftop restaurant deck opens in Charlottetown at Fishbones on Victoria Row

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 2, 2014

Sammi Jo Keoughan serves Phil and Jan Maund from Vancouver Island, B.C., on the rooftop bar at Fishbones on Victoria Row in Charlottetown. The couple were quite impressed, explaining that there is nothing like that where they’re from. The rooftop bar opened on July 25 and will operate from noon to midnight until the end of September.

© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

Imagine being able to sip cocktails under the stars with a spectacular view of downtown Charlottetown.

Fishbones on Victoria Row has made that possible, with what is believed to be P.E.I.’s first rooftop deck restaurant and bar.

Patrons can choose to sit on the main floor with live music on the Row or climb a flight of stairs and set on the roof as the music plays three floors below.

Sam Murphy, general manager of Fishbones, said the idea of a rooftop deck was something his family bounced around for a while.

“Me and my dad and mom have always talked about a rooftop deck in one of the restaurants,’’ Murphy said, referring to well-known restaurant owner Kevin Murphy and his wife, Kathy.

They considered a number of the Murphy businesses, including Gahan House, but ultimately settled on Victoria Row.

“We came in here and it was perfect. On both sides, it’s one floor higher than the other so you get shelter.’’

Sam Murphy had to wait until Charlottetown City Council approved a permit before construction and electrical crews could move in. It took about three weeks to get the deck to the point where it could open to the public.

They opened on Friday, July 25. Murphy estimated the deck was about 80 per cent complete at the time The Guardian sat down with him for this interview.

They were still in the process this week of securing table umbrellas to the deck to shade patrons. Murphy said there are also plans to erect four pergolas in each corner, also for shade. He’s also giving some thought to sprucing up the walls with some artwork, perhaps a nice mural might do.

Phil and Jan Maund, visiting P.E.I. from Vancouver Island, said they were quite impressed with Fishbones’ newest feature.

“This is a great idea, a very lovely spot,’’ Phil Maund told The Guardian. “There is nothing like this where we live,’’ added Jan.

Due to city bylaws, Fishbones is not permitted to have live entertainment on its rooftop deck but the live band that was playing on the Row on this day was quite easy to hear.

The rooftop deck features a full bar, with its own bartender, and a limited menu that focuses on locally-sourced products.

Murphy said about 75 per cent of the clientele that heads to rooftop patios is there for a beer or a cocktail and the ambience, based on discussions with other rooftop deck operators in Canada. With that in mind, Fishbones is in the process of getting its frozen drink machine up and running.

Fishbones has a capacity for 90 patrons on the ground floor and about 60 on the deck. A steel railing encircles the entire deck for safety but doesn’t interfere with the view, with the steeples of the St. Dunstan’s Basilica towering overhead to the south and the Confederation Centre of the Arts to the north.

Murphy said it took a while to get the project off the ground but it’s all been worth it.

“Maybe that is why it took a little longer for the city to approve it, because they have no history with rooftop decks. They wanted to do it right.’’