Busi­ness stays open 11,111 straight days

Son’s 60th an­niver­sary gift to par­ents a most unusual one

Tri-County Vanguard - - FRONT PAGE -

On Wed­nes­day, Sept. 18, Chez Jean Dairy Twirl is cel­e­brat­ing a one-day clo­sure. What’s to cel­e­brate you might ask?

It’s the first time in 11,111 days, or 30 years, five months and one day, that the busi­ness will have closed.

Owner Jean Le­Blanc says his mother al­ways de­clared that as long as she was alive she’d likely never see the restau­rant close un­der his own­er­ship.

“She tells me I work too much,” he says.

But his par­ents cel­e­brated their 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary in Au­gust and Jean de­cided to give them a most unusual gift.

“I told them I would close for one day for their wed­ding an­niver­sary present,” he says.

“What do you give peo­ple who are 82 and 83 that have ev­ery­thing al­ready? My mom was ex­cited when I told her,” he said.

Clara and Pius Le­Blanc opened their small ice cream stand on the prop­erty in 1968.

When Jean was old enough, he worked there for five years be­fore at­tend­ing Dal­housie Univer­sity, where he stud­ied chem­istry and his­tory.

When he re­turned in 1988, his par­ents ex­panded the busi­ness by adding a restau­rant and in 1994 they handed the busi­ness over to him.

Chez Jean Dairy Twirl and Restau­rant now has eight em­ploy­ees – four full-time and four part-time.

Jean says they stand in for him when he’s sick, which has only hap­pened twice un­der his own­er­ship. As for hav­ing to close for other rea­sons, the clos­est Chez Jean has ever come to that is not hav­ing any cus­tomers dur­ing stormy weather. One fellow who fought his way through the bliz­zard for a pop and an ice cream saved the day.

“He went back home and his wife sent him back for another pop. I think I sold for $8.56 that day,” says Jean.

And then there was that other storm where paramedics called to see if he would close early be­cause peo­ple were try­ing to reach the restau­rant and get­ting stuck in the road.

Dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Arthur, Chez Jean sold hard ice cream, cans of pop and bags of chips. The restau­rant was also open dur­ing the pas­sage and af­ter­math of Do­rian this past week­end thanks to the help of a gen­er­a­tor.

On Christmas Day and Box­ing Day he’s typ­i­cally open from 4 to 9 p.m., with a limited menu.

“I work by my­self, I don’t make the staff come in on those days. You’d be sur­prised the num­ber of peo­ple that come in. For some, it’s a Christmas tra­di­tion,” he says.

What will he do on the day the busi­ness is closed? He’ll pop in to make sure the freez­ers are run­ning and later will be on the CIFA ra­dio sta­tion Clara and Pius Le­Blanc opened a small ice cream shop in 1968. The busi­ness ex­panded and trans­ferred to their son, Jean, in 1994. for the Clare Af­ter Dark show about Area 51.

He won’t be sleep­ing in as he says he’d be up at 8 any­way.

“I’ll prob­a­bly go for a ride on my mo­tor­cy­cle if all goes well.”

He may spend a bit of time work­ing on his next book.

He’s writ­ten two so far – 101 Things to do on the French Shore (now out of print) and Leg­ends of the French Shore (avail­able at the restau­rant and at Univer­sité Sainte-Anne).

His third book will be ti­tled “You know you’re from Clare if…”

It will be avail­able in English, French and Aca­dian.

He says some­day he’d like to close the restau­rant for about two weeks and not have to worry about it.

“I’ve gone on va­ca­tion be­fore but it’s al­ways in the back of your head – is ev­ery­thing okay? Is the staff sick? Are they run­ning out of any­thing?” he says.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing to go that long with­out clos­ing,” he adds. “I think it’s more im­por­tant to have a good time off.”

He says some peo­ple ex­pressed sur­prise when he told them the busi­ness will be closed on Sept.18 and asked, “Why are you tak­ing a day off?”

He laughed, “Well, it’s about time isn’t it?”

CARLA ALLEN

Jean Le­Blanc is clos­ing Chez Jean Dairy Twirl on Sept. 18, the first time the busi­ness has been closed in 11,111 days, or 30 years, five months and one day.

CARLA ALLEN

Jean Le­Blanc says he won’t be sleep­ing in on the day Chez Jean Restau­rant closes for the day. “I al­ways get up at 8 any­ways.”

CARLA ALLEN

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