The Nova Scotian entrepreneur who started the Battered Fish is heading to Australia to represent Canada at a summit for young entrepreneurs.

Ryan MacIsaac started the seafood eatery about five years ago with his own investment and a good idea. He paid for his university by working in the hospitality industry, but saw a gap in the market.

“I was like, man, this could be a huge opportunity, because there is a niche in the seafood category,” he said.

A restaurant required more capital than he had, so he instead became one of the first to catch the latest wave of food trucks in Halifax.

He planned to start with special events, but soon found he needed a regular spot.

Bedford Highway first home

He rented a location on the Bedford Highway and parked his truck. “It was a bit of a struggle, and very weather dependent,” he said.

He and his wife, Lynzie Smith, worked seven days a week, from open to close, to get the business off the ground. They also had a baby boy.

Business boomed and MacIsaac made Bedford his permanent location. “Everything’s really got to be about your business to start off, if you want to be successful.”

The Battered Fish sign has become familiar around Halifax.

The Battered Fish sign has become familiar in the Halifax area. (CBC)

By year three, he opened a Scotia Square location (now closed) and began franchising the Battered Fish.

Now, he’s heading to Australia as a Canadian delegation at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance Summit. MacIsaac is excited to share what he’s learned, and to learn from others. “That’s a huge accomplishment,” he said.

His wife, who separately owns Amazing Space Interiors, is also going to Australia with 12 other Canadian delegates. 

Halifax Chamber of Commerce award

In January, MacIsaac won the Small Business of the Year award from the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

It comes as the Battered Fish opens branches or franchises in Lower Sackville, Woodside, Clayton Park and Tantallon, with more coming. The Battered Fish now employs about 100 people at its seasonal peak.

“This will definitely be the biggest year for the company,” he said.

MacIsaac hopes to roll the brand out across North America eventually.

The secret to success is the quality of the food, he said. “We take the quality of our food very seriously,” he said. “Everything is done fresh to order.”

MacIsaac loves being his own boss. It meant he missed his son’s first birthday, but now that they’ve got a second child, he’s looking far ahead.

“Hopefully I’ve created something that’s going to last in the family for years to come and be able to support them,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever miss a birthday again.”