Editor’s note: As Ontario’s lockdown of public facilities is set to continue for at least another ten days and likely longer, local restaurants are more dependent than ever on take-out business. We revisit our story about Peter Piper’s Pubhouse, in Fonthill, originally published in April 2020.
Fonthill pub appreciates community’s support
Peter Moore recounts how one couple is still managing to enjoy their regular date night at his Peter Piper’s Pubhouse.
“It’s with take-out now, and they hang out in the parking lot.”
Humour and cordiality are evident in Moore’s voice, even as COVID-19 and the ensuing regulations have significantly reduced revenues at the restaurant he and his wife own in Fonthill.
Moore says he keeps learning, working to figure out how he and his team can best deal with the new reality.
“Nobody puts this in their business plan, that’s for sure. We’ve got to learn how to roll with things, how to evolve our business. That’s what we’ve always felt, even in the best of times.”
Fish and chips is still the number one dish, followed by chicken wings and burgers. Moore originally shortened the takeout menu to maintain quality and deal with supply-chain disruptions. Suppliers throughout the chain are experiencing shortages of foods and workers on a regular basis, so fulfillment ratios are down and inconsistent.
“We’re getting this figured out. We keep adding to our menu. We’re adding family dinners for four this week, something that makes sense for our customers.”
Peter Piper’s has teamed up with local cider mill Niagara Cider Company, who were struggling to get into the LCBO during the pandemic. Recent changes in Ontario legislation allow beer, wine and spirit sales with take-out food, so the partnership is helping both companies.
Moore lamented the timing of mandatory dining room closure, as he missed St Patricks’ Day and end-of-season team banquets. He had a three year business plan, and was looking forward to his third year, “When things become a little more above water,” and Peter Piper’s had an established customer base.
Moore has learned that his customer base is indeed established, and is touched by how the community has responded.
“In our position, we’ve been lucky enough, I can’t believe the support. People in takeout have been very supportive.”
I can’t believe the support. People in takeout have been very supportive.
Moore feels this may be a response to his and wife Stephanie’s decision to always return the favour to the community. Piper’s became an integral part of Pelham’s fabric early on, sponsoring a room at the new community centre, Summerfest beer cozys, an evening at the bandshell, Army Cadet golf tournaments, and lots more, including recently sending lunch to the paramedic station and food to the Mike Ciolfi vigil. Having the community come together is important to Moore.
When asked how he thought Pelham was surviving without his live musical entertainment on the weekends, Moore laughed and replied that when it came time to reopen, he visualized a big weekend of live entertainment to get everybody back together again.
“We’re missing the musicians and staff, they’ve become family. I want to hire these guys because they’ve been out of work too.”
It was clear that Moore’s focus was on his employees. Some were able to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and others were able to use Employment Insurance benefits. He also expected a program subsidizing up to 75% of his payroll deductions to become finalized shortly, which would further help him retain his employees.
Moore also shared that he had applied to the Federal government’s Canadian Emergency Business Account, designed to assist all small businesses via a loan up to $40,000. Should businesses be able to pay the loan back by 2022, $10,000 of it would become a grant.
UPDATED 2022 HOURS: Peter Piper’s Pubhouse is open for takeout Sunday to Tuesday from 4 to 7 PM; Wednesday and Thursday, 12 to 7 PM; Friday, 12 to 8 PM, and Saturday 3 to 8 PM.
And there’s always a secluded space in the parking lot for your own personal date night. ◆