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Sydney Street pub and café now open for business in Digby

The day has arrived! Saskia Geerts and Claude Perreault have opened their long awaited business, the Sydney Street Pub and Café.
The day has arrived! Saskia Geerts and Claude Perreault have opened their long awaited business, the Sydney Street Pub and Café.

DIGBY, NS – After nearly three years of hard work, the day has finally arrived – Sydney Street Pub and Café is now open for business.

The pub opened its doors the morning of August 29. A big shebang was avoided so owners and staff could ease their way into the Wharf Rat Rally weekend, sure to be chalk full of business on its own.

It was an intentional move – owners Saskia Geerts and Claude Perreault expect a few kinks along the way and have planned for time to iron them out.

“We’re still in disbelief. We actually made it! It’s a good feeling, to be sure, but it hasn’t sunk in at all yet,” said Geerts.

 

Small details in the final days

Before opening, Geerts said it was all about getting the little things finalized.

“I could not have a better partner,” said Geerts about husband Perreault, who’s been with her every step of the way throughout their project. “We balance each other out, and that’s why we work.”

Once the electrical work was finished, smaller things like chairs, tables and utensils were arranged and settled.

Getting utensils proved a little more strange and complicated than anyone expected.

“We needed soup spoons, and every store was out. When does that ever happen?” she laughed.

The border also proved to be a problem for their point of sale system as it was shipped from the United States to Nova Scotia.

“We’d already ordered things that came no problem, but the POS got stuck at customs. Seriously,” said Geerts.

“We could have waited another two weeks for it to get here, but we opened anyway and are using written receipts for now.”

This room is believed by Geerts to have been a pulpit of sorts, since the building was designed as a church. The commercial zoning, along with its charm and potential, prompted Geerts and Perreault to first consider the project.

And apart from a small problem with the Pepsi dispenser, everything has been smooth sailing since the couple planned specifically for taking their opening day one step at a time.

“With wanting to make sure everything else was going well, the choice was simple. ‘Let’s just fix it tomorrow,’ and not worry about it today,’” said Geerts.

 

Local food, drink and talent

It was important to Geerts and Perreault to keep it local at their new pub and café.

Apart from the imported Bass and Guinness beers, the latter a favourite of Perreault’s, the beers are Nova Scotian. Keith’s, Lazy Bear and Rare Bird are currently on tap.

The food also has a local Digby feel to it, placing an emphasis on the delicious seafood the county is famous for.

The blue china new to the café has an interesting story itself. “We actually bought this from Upper Clements Park,” said Geerts. “I’d heard from a friend that it was sitting in storage not being used, so we purchased it from them and now here it is.”

“We absolutely meant to highlight the scallops, haddock and seafood we have here,” said Geerts.

Geerts and Perreault sat down with their seven staff members to try each dish on the menu, and were very pleased with the results.

“I’m so happy with our chefs. There’s no one thing I’m excited for people to try – it’s really the whole thing,” she said.

The menu and beer list are set to expand as things progress at the pub-café, eventually to include breakfast items and a larger supper menu.

Offerings will also eventually expand to include local talent. A small red-velvet stage area will soon be a place for musicians to play.

Anyone interested in playing is encouraged to contact the business’ Facebook page.

 

When to get the grub

The pub is now open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Cash, debit and credit are all accepted.

The pub / café’s inside is almost completely covered in all-original ornate wooden paneling. The floors are also beautiful and were painstakingly restored by Geerts, Perreault and helpers.

Coffee – specialty or otherwise – along with tea, sodas and, of course, water are offered to drink. Snacks, locally-made sweets make up the café snacks, while a menu full of kitchen items offers full meal options.

“We’re open and will work through the little things as people come in and enjoy what we’ve got to offer,” said Perreault, who himself looks forward to sipping a Guinness after a long day of hard work arranging balcony furniture.

“Like Saskia said, it’s just so hard to believe. It’s satisfying to see people here, enjoying it, but I’m already wondering when the vacation will start,” he joked.

“I’ve been in carpenter mode for a long time! Now give me that Guinness.”

Geerts can only laugh as she recalls the blood, sweat and tears that went into finishing the business, and the main man she did it with.

“Sometimes you really want to bash each other’s heads in, but that’s a part of the process,” she said.

“We’re partners. He’s good with things I’m not, and vice versa – I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

 

See also: Hard work paying off: Renovating Digby property into new pub business

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