Adapt and survive are the two words foremost on the mind of Jeremy MacFadyen.
The general manager of Lobster on the Wharf on the Charlottetown waterfront said it’s going to be a season like no one has seen before.
“(Business) is definitely going to be down,’’ said MacFadyen, who talks regularly with owner Steven Larkin. "It’s a survive, not thrive, kind of year. We just have to get by.’’
The restaurant currently has five people employed and would normally have about 50 staff working during the summer. If things go as planned and there are no setbacks involving health restrictions, MacFadyen said he hopes to hire 15 to 20 people back.
“I hope I’m wrong and can have all 50 back.’’
Restaurants will be part of phase three which begins June 1. That’s when they will be allowed to have customers inside and on the decks. MacFadyen is still waiting to hear from public health in terms of what the guidelines will be, meaning what capacity the restaurant will be able to operate at.
Right now, management and staff are trying to focus on what they can control.
MacFadyen said their prime focus is on shipping product across the country. The first orders went out on Tuesday.
“For as long as I can remember we shipped lobster nationwide, but we’re focusing on that this year. It just used to be an addition to the business. Now, we’re really driving that. Since you can’t come to P.E.I. to have the seafood, we can put the seafood on your plate.’’
Orders, live or cooked, are shipped by FedEx and can be delivered within two days. They also ship clams, mussels, scallops, haddock, salmon and oysters.
MacFadyen said they normally would have begun shipping on May 1 but things were delayed when the lobster season was pushed back.
At a glance
Some history on Lobster on the Wharf:
– Lobster on the Wharf has been operating in Charlottetown since 1981, but there was a lobster pound on the site for years before that.
– Gordon MacKinnon operated a business under his name for 17 years, hence the incorporated name MacKinnon’s Lobster Pound.
– Jim and Helen Larkin purchased the business in January 1981.
– It now features 172 indoor seats and 115 outdoor seats, at full capacity. It hasn’t been determined what capacity will be under public health restrictions.
Paul Lucas, who is entering his 15th year as executive chef at the restaurant, said he will be introducing a lobster roll of the week in an attempt to entice locals.
“It’s all about trying to adapt,’’ Lucas said.
Shipping PEI lobster across Canada is a passion of mine. Sharing our bounty of the sea with strangers and friends has always been my favorite part of @LobsterOTW. Thanks to my pal @jaimestein for documenting his experience and for the order. Much appreciated, Jaime. https://t.co/JmzI69osdE— Jeremy MacFadyen (@jeremymacfadyen) May 23, 2020
MacFadyen said it’s tough to look ahead and figure out what the impact of fewer tourist dollars will be.
“It will affect every restaurant; every business on the Island, whether you call yourself a tourism business or not,’’ MacFadyen said. “Everybody on this island relies heavily on tourists year-round. Those 1.3 million room nights on the Island, they’re gone. We’re not going to see that and we’re going to struggle.’’
MacFadyen is hoping there will be a strong demand for their product across Canada since the local demand for lobster tends to ease by July.
“That’s why we’re relying on shipping lobster — adapting to the new normal.’’