A New Face For a Familiar Tignish Tradition

Our Family Traditions filled a hole in the Tignish restaurant scene this November when it opened on the site of the former Cousins’ Restaurant. It’s created thirty year-round jobs, both full and part time, an economic boom in West Prince.

“It was just a vacant lot by the time we got it. It was two years ago, the fire. Cousins’ [restaurant] burnt right to the ground. We rebuilt it from scratch. We designed it. We were trying to do small but then we ended up going a little bigger,” owner Bonnie Gaudet said. She bought the property in the spring 2017.

The name, Our Family Traditions, reflects the story of how the restaurant came to be. “It was always in my mind [to open a restaurant]. And then my two cousins […] there was always a joke [between us]. ‘You build it and we’ll come work for you.’ So it went from there,” said Gaudet, referring to Linda Wells and Sheila Bernard, the head cooks of the restaurant.

The restaurant logo is a family tree. Sara Lee Perry, of Sara Lee Studio and Gallery in Alberton, was commissioned to create a custom mural for the restaurant. “Each leaf is going to have our last names on it. So it’s going to be mine and my husband’s and everybody that works here, they’re going to put their last names up. And when customers come in and they want to add their names to the tree, they will be on the outside [leaves],” Gaudet said.

Along with the family theme of the restaurant, there is a real sense of belonging among the staff. “It is a team. I come from the outside. Honestly. Because everyone else is from up this way. And they made me feel like I’m at home,” said Melissa Williams of Elmsdale, who works as a prep cook.

Pearl LeClair and Maggie Connick showing off homemade meat pies and fresh bread//Photo Credit: Katherine Bell

Gaudet plans to run the restaurant with input from all the staff, seeing the value in letting people take ownership of their areas of expertise. “They can have the kitchen. I don’t go in the kitchen. Hopefully, I get [the opening] settled and then I’ll look after the bookwork. And go where I am needed.”

“Pastas, ribs, and homemade meat pies,” Wells said of the menu, which reflects local tastes and flavours.

“The philly steak is going to be good. There’s a homemade chicken cordon bleu. The fish is all going to be homemade battered,” said Gaudet. Most of the desserts will also be made in-house. There will be a drive-thru service, managed by Arlene Bernard, who brings years of customer service at the Alberton Bakery to her new role.

“When Cousins’ left, it was gone long enough to make us realise you need a restaurant where you can sit down and have a beer and you don’t have to go to Summerside for a restaurant. And there’s not much up here [year round],” said Gaudet. “So I’m hoping this is somewhere you can go and have a glass of wine and still bring your kids and feel comfortable. [I just hope] that we’re busy enough, that we get the local support to keep open all winter.”

Sarah Lee Perry adding custom artwork to the restaurant wall//Photo Credit: Katherine Bell