Keeping the love of restaurants in the family

Rachel Sauvé literally grew up in a restaurant. The industry is in her genes.

For as long as she can remember, her mother, father, and brother Oliver were always at her father’s café in Victoria-by-the-Sea where she had been working since she was old enough to. So it’s fitting that her first restaurant to call her own is in fact on the the sea. Not by it; on it.

Sauvé and her fiancé Doug McKinney have taken over the floating restaurant formerly known as Steamers Boat House and rechristened it The Cork & Cast.

The two have a long history of working together and last year both worked at Fairholm Inn in Charlottetown. “That was a different experience,” McKinney said. “Not quite like restaurants. You spend so much more time with the guests. It’s good experience to bring to the table.”

McKinney has played on a lot of basketball teams, professional and semi-professional, and he said there are good and bad teams. “What I want to do is bring some of what I saw the good teams doing to the restaurant and staff: communication, expectations, transparency. We want staff to know they can come talk to us. We have 150 days in the season so we’ve got to make it work.”

Sauvé and McKinney met 18 years ago through friends, but hadn’t dated until six years ago when they reconnected after Sauvé saw him play with the Island Storm basketball team.

“I think we had one date that first summer so I told him if he wanted to see me he’d have to get a job at the café with me,” Sauvé said.

Lisa and Rob Gale own the former Steamers location and hit it off with Sauvé and McKinney. The Gales approached the two about running something out of their floating location.

“We weren’t even looking for something like that, so to have them come to us felt really good. They are like family now,” Sauvé said.

As for the restaurant: “We [took] the deep-fryers out,” Sauvé said. “You don’t need them to showcase the great food available here on the Island.”

“We have access to the best seafood, meat, and cheese here. The food speaks for itself,” McKinney said.

Sauvé said she designed the menu partially with her history in mind. “Anyone that liked my father’s café will like a couple of the special items on our menu. He and my mother taught me to cook, so it’s inevitable.”

McKinney said making people happy is the best part of working in this industry. Sauvé agrees and said it’s so important to get it right. “This first summer we will be learning our dance,” she said with a laugh. “But food is one of the things that tie us all together as humans. It’s how we express our culture, our love.”

The Cork & Cast opened the last week of May.

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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