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Restaurant Renaissance in Musquodoboit Harbour

Choices for hungry people in Musquodoboit Harbour have been expanding dramatically. The owners of the four new eateries profiled in this piece are all women: some just out of school, some with grown children, but all equally energetic, determined, and excited by their visions. 

Standing behind them are spouses, parents, grandparents, children, and friends, all pitching in to get them through the rigors all start-ups go through, even the dread “flour shower.” There are a number of firsts: to begin with, there’s breakfast! And the only espresso machine along Route 7 past Dartmouth. Time to start eating and support local businesses! 

Uprooted Market & Café

Fresh produce and espresso too! 

Thanksgiving weekend a year ago, Emma Kiley was walking on the beach with a friend, talking about their lives, about wanting to live on the Eastern Shore, about having trouble finding work in her field of sustainability and food.

 “I went home, and was making a list when the idea just popped into my head,” Kiley said. “This space was part of the inspiration. As soon as I thought of the idea, I knew exactly where it was going to be.” Kiley had never been in business before, so she wrote up a business plan for offering soup, sandwiches, fresh produce, and coffee (with the only espresso machine along Route 7 after Dartmouth!)  

Kiley graduated from Dalhousie in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science double major in environmental science and Environment, Sustainability & Society. “My Mom always liked to cook, and I grew up cooking with her. I did more cooking at university. And I spent a year in Ireland, and learned about food culture there.”

While she was planning her shop, Kiley met her boyfriend, Ryan Murphy, who runs Bread & Better Small Business Solutions. Murphy’s parents own Murphy’s Camping on the Ocean, so he contributed some seat-of-the-pants business experience together with good marketing advice.

Kiley reports that she was surprised (and pleased) by how fast business developed: “We’re ahead of my business plan!”

Uprooted Café & Market, 7992 Highway 7, Musquodoboit Harbour, 902-889-9189 

Well & Good

Smoothies, Juice, and More

What do you do if you’ve got a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Mount Saint Vincent University, want to do nutrition-related work, and love living on the Eastern Shore?

For Amy Thistle, the answer was simple: Smoothies.

“I’d never been in business before,” Thistle said. “I love smoothies! They’re healthy, they’re different.”

She started planning Well & Good in September, 2014. She wrote a business plan, and rented the building at 11 East Petpeswick Road in January, 2015. Getting the space ready was tougher than she had planned: “My husband, who’s in the Navy, got deployed from mid-December 2014 until mid-July on a peacekeeping mission in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, so he wasn’t here.”

Thistle’s business combines income streams. Reflexologist Ginny Lewis practices there once a week, and Thistle rents space out for workshops, classes, and events. “People have taught Qigong, infant massage, jewelry making, even some outdoor yoga in the backyard this summer,” Thistle said.

Smoothies are always available. This summer she offered salads made with local produce. And she makes hummus, trail mix, and fruit-based “energy bites.”

“My focus is on local products,” Thistle said. “I’ve got loose leaf teas from Moon Bay, and Soap Company of Nova Scotia soap, candles, laundry powder, and bath products.”

Well & Good, 11 East Petpeswick Road, Musquodoboit Harbour 889-9004

Harbour House Café 

Home Cooking for Everyone

“I make everything at Harbour House,” said owner Ella Stevens. “I can teach till the cows come home, it just doesn’t get done my way.”

Stevens took over the home of the former Bear’s Den Café in December, 2014.

“I stayed at home for 30 years to focus on raising my four kids,” Stevens said, “although I did put in some time as a short-order cook, managed a video store, and worked as a school custodian. But with kids gone, who better to work for than myself?”

Stevens gets help from her family. “My three girls work here part time,” she said, “but my son stays away. My husband tries to help. He’s a good maintenance guy, but sometimes he gets underfoot!” 

Running a small restaurant is a never-ending learning experience. “We stayed open the whole winter, which may be different this year,” Stevens said. “But the locals have been so darn good to me.  Seniors are a huge part of our clientele. I would feel bad about not being here at suppertime.”

Stevens’ friends pushed her to name the restaurant after herself, but she took a longer view. “I have a five-year plan to build a really good restaurant,” Stevens said. “ ‘Harbour House Café’ will be easier to sell than ‘Ella’s’ if I’m not going to be doing all the cooking anymore! In the meantime, I’m truly enjoying the place, and the pacing is good.”

 Harbour House Café, 7955 Highway 7, Musquodoboit Harbour, 889-3200.  

Baker’s Eats and Treats 

Breakfast, Burgers, and Beyond

You can now get a real breakfast in Musquodoboit Harbour! The opening of Baker’s Eats and Treats fills in a critical gap for early morning eaters.   

Tammy Baker has lots of experience cooking. In fact, she was working at Rowling’s Take Out across the street when she decided to take over the former Mason’s.

There was a lot of cleaning up to do, so it helped that Baker’s husband owns a cleaning service, Atlantic Evershine Cleaners. “We put in 900 hours cleaning,” said Baker. “And we’re almost done fixing up the three-bedroom apartment upstairs. It’s got a really nice view of the train station across the street.”

Baker misjudged how fast business would pick up. “We opened up, and WHAMMO!, people were pouring in,” Baker said. Baker pitches for a women’s slo-pitch softball team. “I called the Hustlers, and all my ball girls came in,” Baker said. “I was just overwhelmed by all the help. And Paul Nicholl at Dobbit’s has been great teaching us all about dough.”

Baker laughed about her first “flour shower.” “Someone changed the speed on the dough machine,” Baker said, “so when we turned it on, it sprayed flour all over everything. We were all dusted white from top to bottom!”

In addition to breakfast, Baker sells pizza, donairs, and sandwiches. “Baker’s Burgers are our biggest seller, with my own special sauce,” Baker said.

 Baker’s Eats and Treats, 7898 Highway 7, Musquodoboit Harbour, 889-2555

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11 E Petpeswick Rd, Musquodoboit Harbour, NS B0J 2L0

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