Food vendor a lifeline for fishermen
Mobile food vendor a lifeline for fishermen, coastal communities
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.
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.”
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.
The Louisburg Seafoods Mira Bay mobile fish truck, which has the slogan ‘The Taste of Tradition,’ gathers a line people early morning.