CRAPAUD – Marion Miller holds up the first menu used when she and her husband Edgar took over the Red Rooster restaurant in Crapaud on Oct. 6, 1973. Marion has been running the operation for the past 40 years.
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Marion Miller holds up the first menu used when she and her husband Edgar took over the Red Rooster restaurant in Crapaud on Oct. 6, 1973. Marion has been running the operation for the past 40 years.
Many owners have pecked away at making a living from the Red Rooster, a restaurant situated in the scenic rural setting of Crapaud right along the Trans-Canada Highway.
By Marion Miller’s count, seven different operators ran the no-frills, family-style establishment in the first 20 years after the business was built in 1953.
Miller has certainly put a halt to the Red Rooster being passed around like a hot potato.
She and Edgar decided to look at a change of venue when they visited P.E.I. in June 1973. They were living in Hamilton, Ont., at the time, where Marion had run a small restaurant for about one year and Edgar was working at the public library.
Rather than simply buying a place to live, the pair ended up purchasing a livelihood as well.
The couple bought the Red Rooster Family Restaurant and Motel, the latter a seven-room accommodation that was added next to the restaurant in the early 1970s.
Long hours and hard work, particularly in the early years that saw the Millers work from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, was a requirement for success.
The couple’s two children also put in their time at the Red Rooster: son, Dylan, as a cook and daughter, Erin, as a waitress.
“We were always hopeful they would be interested in taking over,’’ said Edgar.
“It treated us so well so we thought it could treat them well,’’ adds Marion. “It’s just not their interest.’’
The restaurant has been Marion’s baby for the past 40 years (the motel was closed three years ago following substantial damage from a freak twister).
Edgar worked in construction from 1984 until 2000. He keeps busy growing two large gardens that provide lettuce, carrots, onions, cucumbers and other fresh produce for the restaurant.
Fish and chips, burgers (made from ground beef, stresses Marion, not from frozen patties) and hot sandwiches are among the most popular fare on the menu. Desserts, including homemade butter tarts and fresh-baked pies, are also long established patron pleasers.
Not a whole lot has changed in the offerings over the past 40 years other than, of course, the prices. Marion pulls out a 1973 menu that prices a cheeseburger at 70 cents, a hot dog at 35 cents, fish and chips at $1.45, sirloin steak at $3.25 and a cup of coffee at 20 cents.
Keeping the restaurant going for four decades and counting, the past five or six years seasonally from May to November, is rewarding to Marion.
While the restaurant has not made a fortune, the business has provided a wealth of interaction. Marion simply relishes all the relationships she has built over the years with customers and staff.
“It is sort of self-satisfying,’’ she says.
Marion has had many employees work for her for more than 10 years. She has always tried to make work fun for the staff. She never fired a single person, choosing rather to put the effort into nurturing a green employee in need of guidance.
She even has second-generation waitresses working for her.
Marion also gets a kick out of informing how some staff went on to bigger and better things, like former Red Rooster waitress Michelle Murphy, now a P.E.I. Supreme Court judge.
Joe Gay of Summerside has been coming to the restaurant for the past eight or so years with his wife, Marjorie. He says the food is good, the location lovely and the service second to none.
“The atmosphere is wonderful,’’ he says. “They look after you.’’
Marion plans to continue to rule the Red Rooster 40 years on.
“I’m still able, I guess,’’ she says. “I’m not planning on not opening next year.”