A Place to Relax

Lot 45 establishing itself as year-round pub in Souris

It was like a Christmas present when Darin McAree and his partner, Linda Brown, learned late last year that their proposal to take over the vacant premises on 41 Breakwater Street had been accepted by the Souris Harbour Authority. Three months later, on March 10, they opened Lot 45 Pub & Eatery’s doors to the public.

“There were hurdles and hitches. That comes with the territory. But it was too good of an opportunity not to take,” said McAree, who has made Lot 45 his full-time obsession.

The space radiates a calm, fresh ambiance with its light blue walls and nautical accents, thanks to Brown, who is the pub’s interior decorator and manages the social media, alongside her day job as a nurse practitioner. McAree applies his creativity to the culinary side of things, and has worked hard to develop a menu that offers classic pub food and features local ingredients wherever possible.

“While I do not do all of the cooking in the restaurant, the recipes are mine and most days you will find me on the line at some point. I also schedule myself in as part of the kitchen staff,” he said.

“We do prepare a lot of our menu items here such as meats, soups, gravies, even homemade bread pudding,” McAree said. At dinner, for example, you can savour crunchy house-made coleslaw accompanying familiar pub fare such as fish and chips or burger and fries. The bread served alongside many of the pub’s breakfast options is sourced from the Seaside Bakery in Souris.

Darin McAree, owner/operator of Lot 45 in Souris, PEI.//Photo Credit: Sheldon Chaisson

“As young as 16, I used to hitch a ride into town every weekend to do every job that needs doing in the bars and restaurants,” said McAree, recollecting his early induction into the hospitality industry.

A native of Cardigan, McAree worked his way up the ladder from those basic kitchen duties to his most recent post as general manager of a popular watering hole. He credits a steady and persistent work ethic, as well as a red seal chef certification as important ingredients to his success. Having a restaurant to call his own one day was always the end goal.

“[Now my objective is to provide] a place that has good home cooking and a good pub menu for the late crowd. We want to offer a consistently good product. In a quality atmosphere[…]We want couples to come for a drink or families for dinner,” McAree said, adding that the pub is also an ideal spot to simply have a beer and watch the game.

Speaking of beer (it is a pub after all), McAree sticks close to home, offering brews from PEI’s very own Upstreet Craft Brewing, along with Pumphouse and Moosehead from New Brunswick. The close proximity to Myriad View Distillery ensures the pub is always well-stocked with quality hard liquors.

At Lot 45, the focus on local extends well beyond sourcing from Island suppliers, with McAree stating that it’s the local residents who are his most valuable customers.

 

Local fare from land and sea at Lot 45.//Photo Credit: Sheldon Chaisson

“The neighbours brought us a bottle of wine to welcome us into the area,” McAree said, citing just one example of the warm reception he and Brown have received in Souris.

He is eager to reciprocate the kindness he has received and help build a sense of community, as pubs are often wont to do in small, closely-knit towns. Offering local employment and hosting events are two ways he has been able to do so in the short window since opening Lot 45.

“I didn’t even have to post jobs formally. I just put it on Facebook and my email lit up.”

The pub’s celebrations to mark the lobster fishing season on Setting Day in late April and Landing Day in June, and other events throughout the year suggest McAree knows how to keep his local clientele happy with three key ingredients: live music, alcohol, and good food.

If McAree is right about what Souris’ year-round residents want from their local pub, the crowds will continue to come simply through word of mouth. Certainly, he and Brown remain committed to the pub’s success and to the people of Souris.

“It was a family affair, everybody jumped in to help.” said McAree, when asked how he’s made it to this juncture. In other words, it takes a village to raise a pub.

About Jessica Fritz

Jessica is “from away” in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and only recently moved to PEI. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. “Thinking globally, buying locally” is her foodie mantra and growing her own veggies will be her next big adventure. Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI’s thriving culinary landscape.

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