Food ven­dor a life­line for fish­er­men

Mo­bile food ven­dor a life­line for fish­er­men, coastal com­mu­ni­ties

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY DE­SIREE ANSTEY SPE­CIAL TO SALTWIRE NET­WORK

In a mat­ter of min­utes, the early morn­ing quiet is bro­ken in Cheti­camp as the smell of fresh lo­cally caught fish roles into a park­ing lot.

Dave Nicholson kills the en­gines purr and gets ready for a busy day on the Louis­burg Seafoods Mira Bay mo­bile fish truck, which has the slo­gan “The Taste of Tra­di­tion.”

De­spite a two-month lock­down amid COVID-19, the de­mand for their seafood has not stalled but in­stead surged.

“On an av­er­age Thurs­day when I ar­rive in this des­ti­na­tion, I can see any­thing from 80 to a cou­ple of hun­dred cus­tomers, in a con­stant stream com­ing through the truck,” said Nicholson, while ad­mit­ting he doesn’t get much time for short smoke breaks.

“We have the reg­u­lar cus­tomers that re­turn ev­ery week, but many new ones too, and I get phone calls from tourists vis­it­ing the re­gion to make sure I am on my way to try the lo­cal fish. It is non-stop all day, and the truck is so pop­u­lar that other food ven­dors have started fol­low­ing me around.”

“It’s still a fam­ily busi­ness that pas­sion­ately be­lieves in sup­port­ing small coastal com­mu­ni­ties, with re­spon­si­bly sourced seafood.”

Al­lan Ma­cLean, se­nior oper­a­tions man­ager

The fish truck was born from Louis­burg Seafoods, a fam­ily-op­er­ated busi­ness started by James “Jim” Kennedy and his wife Lori in 1984. The cou­ple grew their busi­ness from a small un­load­ing op­er­a­tion for fish­er­men, to a fish plant in Louis­burg in the 1990s.

It has ex­panded to sev­eral more award-win­ning fish pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties, where ev­ery­thing from snow crab, lob­ster, red­fish, north­ern shrimp, to sea cu­cum­bers, mus­sels, oys­ters, and more are pre­pared.

“It’s still a fam­ily busi­ness that pas­sion­ately be­lieves in sup­port­ing small coastal com­mu­ni­ties, with re­spon­si­bly sourced seafood,” said Al­lan Ma­cLean, se­nior oper­a­tions man­ager.

“As the Kennedy fam­ily made money, they rein­vested back into the com­mu­ni­ties. This year we will prob­a­bly em­ploy, at the peak of our pe­riod, close to 600 peo­ple.”

While there is one mo­bile fish truck that has been on the road for 10 years, vis­it­ing St. Peter’s, Bad­deck, Cheti­camp, In­ver­ness or Mar­ga­ree Forks, and Howie Cen­tre in Cape Bre­ton through­out the week, there are talks gear­ing-up of ex­pan­sion.

“A lot of in­ter­est­ing things hap­pened from the COVID19 wave. Peo­ple are more in­ter­ested in sup­port­ing lo­cal. This has led us to re­think how the fish truck will op­er­ate, and we’re think­ing strongly of how we can ex­pand and con­tinue to pro­vide top-qual­ity seafood to the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,” said Ma­cLean.

The fish, free from preser­va­tives, is caught by smallscale fish­er­men and the Louis­burg fleet, con­sist­ing of two li­censed ves­sels.

“Dur­ing the lock­down, it was in that time we be­gan to re­al­ize just how im­por­tant the fish truck meant to peo­ple. We had lots of phone calls and mes­sages ask­ing when it would be back,” said Ma­cLean.

“For us, it was a feel-good mo­ment when we saw how much the peo­ple in these coastal com­mu­ni­ties ap­pre­ci­ated hav­ing the fish truck. And, it is a kind of tra­di­tion in these parts of Nova Sco­tia. The Louis­burg Seafood brand is very well-known for its qual­ity food, but also as one of the big­gest pri­vate sec­tors for em­ploy­ees.”

He con­tin­ued, “And, peo­ple know Dave from the truck. They trust and ask him for recipes. It is that fa­mil­iar face and direct in­ter­ac­tion that you can­not get from the large chain stores. We want the fish truck to be a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers, and if there is some­thing we can do bet­ter, we are only too glad to hear how we can im­prove.”

Noth­ing beats the ben­e­fits of buy­ing fresh, lo­cal, and re­spon­si­bly sourced seafood, said Nicholson, the sec­ond per­son to have op­er­ated the fish truck af­ter a work­ing span of 35-years at Louis­burg Seafoods.

“Buy­ing fresh, lo­cal seafood, and know­ing where it comes from has be­come im­por­tant to a lot of con­sumers. It is what I eat with my fam­ily,” he said.

“My day starts at 7 a.m. I col­lect the fresh fish – scal­lops, hal­ibut, crab, had­dock, sole, shrimp, tuna, mus­sels, what­ever I can get my hands on – and then I am on the road un­til I sell out. On Sun­days, I do pay­roll, and Mon­days are my days off.”

The sil­ver lin­ing at the end of the day for Nicholson may come as a sur­prise.

“I love the peo­ple sup­port­ing lo­cal. Some bring me a cup of tea, oth­ers come to ask about cook­ing meth­ods, but they are all just a great bunch. There’s no other job I would want to do,” he said from a so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal, and eco­nomic stand­point.

Sup­port­ing lo­cal has been a game-changer for the small com­mu­ni­ties dot­ted along the coast.

“It’s about liveli­hoods and many are com­ing down here en­joy­ing the fruits of the fish­er­man’s labour at a cost that is ben­e­fi­cial to their pock­et­book – and it’s all beau­ti­ful fish,” added Nicholson.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Louis­burg Seafoods Mira Bay fish truck, visit www. louis­bourgseafo­ods.ca or check them out on so­cial me­dia.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY SHAOWEI XU

Dave Nicholson hands over fresh, lo­cally caught fish, to a reg­u­lar cus­tomer of the Mira Bay fish truck owned by Louis­burg Seafoods. The truck has be­come a tra­di­tion for the lo­cal folk in the com­mu­ni­ties that dot the coast of Cape Bre­ton. On an av­er­age day in Cheti­camp, Nicholson said, “I can see any­thing from 80 to a cou­ple of hun­dred cus­tomers, in a con­stant stream com­ing through the truck.”

CON­TRIB­UTED BY SHAOWEI XU

Dave Nicholson said the Mira Bay fish truck that he op­er­ates has be­come so pop­u­lar that other food ven­dors have started fol­low­ing him to get cus­tomers. But the most im­por­tant thing, he said, is that it is about sup­port­ing lo­cal.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY SHAOWEI XU

The Louis­burg Seafoods Mira Bay mo­bile fish truck, which has the slo­gan ‘The Taste of Tra­di­tion,’ gath­ers a line peo­ple early morn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.