P.E.I. restaurants get boost from foodie Facebook page

Despite COVID-19 health restrictions in the province, some restaurants on P.E.I. are doing pretty well and attributing some of that success to a foodie Facebook page.

'That's what the page is all about. We are a community and we're there to help each other'

Earl Oliver, owner of Budley's at the Charlottetown Airport, says business is so good he's brought back staff and is hiring more. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

It's quiet at the Charlottetown Airport these days. With only one flight arriving and departing daily, there's not much activity in the terminal.

But, despite a lack of travellers, Budley's, the restaurant in the airport, is still open. 

And business is good. 

"Lately I've been able to bring back some staff that were laid off because of the pandemic," said owner Earl Oliver. "And also I've just recently … hired two new staff members and one potentially [is] coming in next week."

The restaurant closed for a month or two at the start of the pandemic, said Oliver. But then he started to offer curbside pickup and some other services.

"I went further and got involved in this burger review page that's on Facebook," he said. "And it really has taken off."

Oliver posts his menu items to the group, and people are actively reviewing the restaurant's food. He said the Facebook page is directly responsible for an increase in business. 

"I would say it's got to be at least 60 or 70 per cent of the traffic coming in."

The stack of Budley's finished orders on Saturday tells the tale. Oliver says about 70 per cent of his business has come from the foodie Facebook page over the past few months. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Oliver said passengers on the two flights aren't allowed to visit the restaurant. But he's still doing about the half the business he would in a normal year.

"It feels good for sure," he said.

Foodie Facebook

Erin Davis, an administrator on the PEI's Burger & Delicious Food Reviews page, said the site has grown since the start of the pandemic and now has 7,000 members. Most live on P.E.I., said Davis. 

Davis makes it her job to go to as many restaurants on the Island as possible, posting about what she had. She pays for her own meal.

It's her way of supporting the restaurant industry in a tough time. 

"That's what the page is all about. We are a community and we're there to help each other," said Davis.  

'We are a community and we're there to help each other,' says Erin Davis. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"They say if you have a bad experience, they'll tell 10 people. Well, we're trying to educate the public and [if] you have a good experience, tell it. And it's working."

Even if she doesn't enjoy a meal, she'll post about it, but it won't be negative. 

"That's what we all want to reinforce on the page is a positive experience," she said. 

It's not just the airport restaurant feeling the boost in business from the group.  

'It's insane how busy we've been'

Matthew Feehan, the executive chef at Uptown Lounge for a year and a half, said he routinely posts on the page, but reviewers are also posting and raving about his food. 

"It's insane how busy we've been since September, even after the last lockdown. We are tremendously busy.

"I attribute that to the burger page a lot, to be honest," he said. 

Matthew Feehan, executive chef at Uptown Lounge, says he attributes a lot of the business he's experiencing to the Facebook page. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Feehan said the business has increased by 75 per cent in his time there and he has brought in staff to keep up with the demand. He's not the only one in the kitchen anymore. 

He said they've been so busy some days they've had to turn away regular customers.

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