Nfld. & Labrador

Former MHAs open Mary Brown's franchise in Florida

Two former politicians from Newfoundland have opened up the first Mary Brown's in southwest Florida.

Paul Shelley and Kathy Goudie are behind the brand's first foray into the United States

Former politicians Paul Shelley and Kathy Goudie opened the first Mary Brown's in the states in April 2017, in Englewood, Florida. (Submitted)

Mary Brown's has officially flocked south with its famous chicken and taters, thanks to a couple of former politicians from Newfoundland who wanted to spread their love for the fried chicken.

After purchasing property in Englewood, Florida a few years ago, former MHAs Paul Shelley and Kathy Goudie decided a Mary Brown's would be a great fit for the area which often nests snowbirds from Canada throughout the year.

The franchise opened in April, the brand's first in the United States, and according to Shelley it's been a hit with both visitors and locals. 

"We've had ... as much as an hour wait, in our waiting room, just to seat at Mary Brown's. I think that's unheard of." 

Former premier Danny Williams was in Florida recently and visited the new Mary Brown's in Englewood. (Submitted)

The pair decided that a diner-style restaurant would suit the appetite of the area, offering home-style meals as well as fast food.

"A 60s, 70s style diner is still very popular here," Shelley said.

He said opening a diner was also a chance to add some taste of home to the menu — dishes such as seafood chowder, toutons and pea soup. And, so far, the locals are enjoying the fusion. 

"B'y, it's a great reaction because I basically have to go to the table and explain where it's from and what the traditions are," Shelley said.

"I can tell ya the chowder that was made from one of the chefs in St. John's — we basically run out every day."

Politics and taters

Shelley says they run the restaurant very hands on and that goes a long way for their staff of nearly 50. 

"That they see you work in the restaurant, hands on, and be involved with them. That makes for a real good staff and good service, so that's a winning combination."

Shelley credits his smooth transition into the food business to his political background.

"That's exactly what I'm still doing — getting to know people. And, that really works in the restaurant industry."


Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.