TYNE VALLEY -- Owners of a by-appointment only dining room in Tyne Valley remain hopeful P.E.I. Environmental Health will reconsider and allow them to continue to provide their service beyond October.
Paul and Jean Offer have been serving meals out of their Tyne Valley home, the Doctors Inn, for over 30 years. It started with a bed and breakfast but in recent years they’ve dropped the inn portion of the business and continued to take reservations for small group meals.
© Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Jean Offer in The Doctors Inn private dining room.
They take just one reservation per day, select fresh-from the garden produce and fresh from the market meats
“We’re trying to get them to make a little niche for us,” Jean Offer said Monday, explaining she and her husband are hoping the department will “grandfather” them in because of their long history of providing the intimate and small group seating.
“This is part of our income; it helps keep us afloat,” she said.
A key issue with the department is that the meals are prepared in the same kitchen that the Offers use to prepare their own meals.
On an invitation from the Offers environmental health officer Joe Bradley visited their property on June 25. The couple are awaiting a response from Bradley, hoping they can continue their service.
The couple operate a market garden on their Tyne Valley property and are regular vendors at the Charlottetown Farmers Market. Government has given them the green light to continue selling at the farmers’ market the jams, jellies and other preserves prepared in their kitchen but have given them until October to close up their private dining room.
Mrs. Offer said they have been receiving a lot of public support for their request to be allowed to continue operating. Celebrity chef Michael Smith, she noted, even tweeted support for their cause. “What happens when the health department runs amok and loses common sense - Flush away 30 years,” Smith wrote.
Smith had stayed at the Doctors Inn and dined there while the Offers were still in the Bed and Breakfast business.
“We’re different than anyone else,” Mrs. Offer said of their dining service. “Nobody else goes out in the garden and picks vegetables two hours before dinner.”
Business at the Doctors Inn dining room so far this year is ahead of the same period last year. Mrs. Offer said many diners, including a booking from Oregon, indicated they are aware this could be the Offers final year in business and encouraged them to pursue their goal of remaining open.