Sarah Forrester Wendt named her vegan restaurant after a quote from a 1940’s comedy film.
But, more importantly, how often her father quoted it.
“It’s what my Dad calls my Mom. He’d come home from work and be like, ‘Hello my plum, my duck.’”
The term of endearment, originating from a line of dialogue in My Little Chickadee, took physical form when Forrester Wendt named her first restaurant, located in downtown Charlottetown, after it.
“So, when I opened the restaurant, I wanted to name it something that made me feel good.”
Recently she reflected on whether naming it My Plum, My Duck was good or bad for the business. Perhaps she could have named it something to more clearly specify the content of her menu, she said.
“So (people) knew that it was a vegan restaurant. Because I feel like maybe they didn’t.”
But regardless, she knows many will remember and miss what her restaurant had to offer. After about three years of service, My Plum, My Duck will be closing its doors by the end of this month.
Forrester Wendt hosted a goodbye party on Nov. 16, which featured many of her fan-favourite specials. Her menu was entirely vegan, save for one dish, which rotated daily throughout the week.
Having been a chef for about 20 years, opening her own restaurant has always been a dream. When she finally did in June 2017, she’s since had weeks where she’s worked up to 80 hours, which is not uncommon for a startup restaurant in the industry, she said.
“Because I wanted it to work so badly. And I loved every minute of it.”
In the first three hours following her soft opening, she had about 200 customers, which was a huge show of support, she said.
While she’s loved working out of the building, located near the corner of University Avenue and Euston Street, it wasn’t without its challenges over the years. In the first month of business a car ran into the corner of it late in the night, and the building’s pipes froze later that winter.
Furthermore, winters can be a quiet time of year for a restaurant. And since the vegan and organic materials she sourced were typically more expensive, business costs gradually added up.
“The rest of the year it really (was) quite hard to keep going,” she said. “We did notice that every winter got harder.”
Ultimately, with the vegan community being smaller in Charlottetown as compared to larger cities, she decided this year it was no longer sustainable to stay open. While personal and family matters factored in, it was a business decision in the end, Forrester Wendt said.
And she’s very proud of what she’s accomplished.
“It was a dream, and I’m so happy I did it,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I introduced products that have never been made on P.E.I.”
Forrester Wendt’s thankful to all her customers, her family for pitching in, and all her staff - some who’ve been working there since opening day.
She plans to continue working as a caterer, either under her own name, My Plum, My Duck, or a new business name. She’s also open to opening a new restaurant someday, she said.