The tiny Newfoundland town of St. Lunaire-Griquet, population approximately 660, is home to The Daily Catch, a 55-seat seafood restaurant with an international reputation.
By donalee Moulton
The key to its success comes down to two words: think local.
This approach requires buying local ingredients to the greatest extent possible and creating dishes reminiscent of the local culture and community. At The Daily Catch, which is open from Mother’s Day to the end of September, the focus on fresh fish, and other products, enables co-owners Terry and Denise Hedderson to create memorable meals, many of them with a traditional flavour. It also helps them stay profitable.
“Cod fish caught that morning will be eaten by customers that night. There is no taste like the taste of fresh fish,” says Terry Hedderson, a former fisherman, international fisheries observer, and fish farmer who opened The Daily Catch in 2003.
To keep costs down, Hedderson processes and dresses the fish, including cod and halibut, himself. He also purchases mussels from a nearby mussel farm. “You can sit in the restaurant, look over the bay and see the mussel farm,” Hedderson says.
The emphasis on serving up freshly harvested fish and seafood matches a strong commitment to serve up local dishes. On the menu you’ll find such traditional Newfoundland fare as fish cakes, and fish and brewis, made with salt cod and hard tack and served with scrunchions (salt pork fat cut into small pieces and fried until crispy).
The latter has now become an appetizer as well. Last summer Hedderson enhanced his starter menu so customers – primarily tourists in town to visit L’Anse aux Meadows, the world-famous site where Vikings first landed in North America – could taste the local cuisine without having to make it their main course.
In addition to fish, local berries, such as bakeapple and partridgeberry, are transformed into freshly baked pies and toppings for deep-fired ice cream and cheesecake. They are also about to become drinks such as a bakeapple hot toddy, which locals used to serve to cold and tired fishermen years ago.
The Daily Catch, located more than 1,000 kilometres from St. John’s, serves up more than the freshest ingredients prepared in the traditional ways – including a batter for fish and chips used in the community for years. The view overlooking St. Lunaire Bay is also spectacular. Look closely and you just might see an iceberg bobbing in the water.
The Daily Catch’s Top Tips
Think big. Operators starting out often tend to be cautious and go smaller. Don’t undersell yourself. Plan for expansion right from the start.
Identify your market. It sounds straightforward, but many restaurant owners try to be all things to all customers. This is a recipe for failure.
Stand out from the crowd. Look at what your competition is doing, and do things differently.