PEI

How a Charlottetown marina is creating a floating food court

Forget food trucks. The owners of a marina in Charlottetown are creating a floating food court, building on the success of their floating restaurant.

Weather and tide add extra challenges to food operations on water

Conner Reid and Lisa Gale of Peake's Quay Marina say that as soon as they floated the idea of the food court on the water there was lots of interest. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Forget food trucks. The owners of a marina in Charlottetown are creating a floating food court, building on the success of their floating restaurant.

Lisa Gale, one of the owners of Peake's Quay Marina, says customers loved the experience of eating on the water at Steamers Boathouse at the Charlottetown Marina, which they also own.

It's going to draw just more and more people down to that spot— Caron Prins, The Chip Shack

"It's popular out in Vancouver and places like that but not anywhere in Atlantic Canada, you're actually floating in the water," Gale said.

"They love it, they love the experience so if a boat goes by, you get the little bit of a wave and it's just the beautiful views of the harbour."

Gale and Reid are targeting May 24 for most of the food operations to be up and running. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Gale describes the collection of restaurants as "jelly bean shops," featuring bright colours similar to Jellybean Row in St. John's, Newfoundland.

The new tenants will include Nimrods' which will serve pizza and pasta, Zak's Burgers and Shakes as well as The Chip Shack. The marina will also have two businesses of its own, called Sugar Shack and Boathouse Brews. 

On the water challenges

Gale said that as soon as they floated the idea of the food court on water, there was lots of interest.

The collection of restaurants will be painted bright colours similar to Jellybean Row in St. John's. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"We have a list of people that would love to be down here and for this year we're happy with who we have and we'll go from there," Gale said.

While the view is great, she admits weather is definitely one of the challenges.

"Having the restaurant over at Steamers for the last six years, we kind of learned so we know what to do and what not to do," Gale said.

"As long as they're getting a great product and the view, they don't seem to mind."

There will be a heated tent here in the marina to help overcome some of the weather challenges. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Marina managing partner Conner Reid says building the floating food court has some different challenges.

"It's not just your 10 feet of electrical line that you need to be concerned about, you have to be concerned about the tide issues and even water pressure issues," Reid said. 

"We're not just a brick-and-mortar place on land, we are a unique business — we are floating in the marina."

'Neat and interesting'

Mikey Wasnidge says Nimrods' was approached by the marina after a proposal to put a food truck downtown was turned down by Charlottetown city council.

Mikey Wasnidge and Jesse Clausheide of Nimrods' will have two operations this summer — this truck on North River Road plus the building at the marina. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"Who wouldn't be interested in the opportunity to build something on something that sounds so neat and interesting?" said Wasnidge.

Being on water has presented some obstacles for the business.

"We have a pretty small space, it's a12-by-20 space and because it's on the water it's really difficult to do propane and to do electrical."

And then, there's the wood-fired pizza oven. 

"The pizza oven that we're having built is 5,000 pounds so figuring out how to crane in a pizza oven into a floating shed is not the easiest thing in the world," Wasnidge said.

'Something exotic'

Caron Prins moved The Chip Shack to the Peake's Quay Marina in June 2018, after seven years beside Founders Hall.

Caron Prins moved The Chip Shack to the Peake's Quay Marina in June 2018 after seven years beside Founders Hall. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

She says customers are excited to be on the docks having their meal.

"They feel like they're somewhere different, you know like something exotic," Prins said.

"You're on a dinner cruise boat or it's not just a normal restaurant." 

Prins said she is looking forward to having more restaurants in the marina this season.

"If you have a very successful restaurant or a car dealership or whatever, you want more similar in that area," Prins said.

"It's going to draw just more and more people down to that spot. That's what I think is going to happen here."

Gale and Reid are targeting May 24 for most of the food operations to be up and running at the marina.

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About the Author

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water rowing, travelling to Kenya or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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