Crystal Beach Roadhouse closes after 60 years

Crystal Beach Roadhouse on Lakeshore Drive outside Thunder Bay sold off its plates, forks and small appliances this weekend.

Popular Thunder Bay-area restaurant faced several challenges in staying open

The Crystal Beach Roadhouse outside Thunder Bay has closed its doors after 60 years in business. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Crystal Beach Roadhouse on Lakeshore Drive outside Thunder Bay sold off its plates, forks and small appliances this weekend.

The co-owner Debbie Hindle blames the closure of the popular restaurant on the new divided highway that bypasses it and dwindling customer traffic this past winter.

I will terribly miss the people in the restaurant.- Crystal Beach Roadhouse co-owner Debbie Hindle

"Last winter was quite bad,” Hindle said. “We get our local traffic all the time, but it's not enough.”

It was also hard to attract qualified cook staff.

“We can get a lot of kids, you know, for prep work and dish work and stuff, but it's the people who know what they're doing on the grill — that's hard to get,” she said.

Hindle said what she'll miss most about running the restaurant is all her regular customers.

"I will terribly miss the people in the restaurant. We had an emotional final weekend. It was pretty rough." 

‘Not ready to retire’

The Crystal Beach Roadhouse has been at that location for about 60 years — during 23 of which she and her husband were in charge.

"Ideally, to run that operation seasonally [in the summer] would be excellent,” Hindle said. “We went through the winters just to make a place for our regulars to come, so they wouldn't be totally cut off."

Once the highway was being built, they realized "we're just not going to be able to continue to do this."

Both Hindle and her husband recently turned 60.

"We're not ready to retire ... we're looking for some work in town,” she said. “It would be nice to get a paycheque."

A paycheque without all the extra work required of a business owner.

"I won't miss the business end of things,” Hindle added. “It was very demanding. It was with you all the time. You had a day off but you didn't really have a day off.”


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