How one local couple has faced adversity in the restaurant industry
When local restaurateurs Ryan and Christina Clarke decided to purchase the iconic Louis’ II restaurant in 2015, they had a vision to make it their own. But how do you transform an established business of 30-plus years, with its loyal patronage and popular menu, into your own brand?
“We knew change was going to be hard for a town of loyal Louis’ II customers. But our little family had a dream just like Barb and Louis did all those years ago. So, after two years of operating the status quo, we asked for their blessing. And then we made it happen,” says owner/chef Ryan Clarke.
Fuelled by a love for local, freshly prepared food and the inclusivity of bringing people to the table, the Clarkes enlisted the business expertise of Launch & Prosper Consulting Group along with interior designer Rebecca LeClaire. The restaurant was rebranded, renovated and launched as Main St Local Kitchen in March 2017.
The wholesome menu is primarily North American comfort food with special attention to vegan and gluten-friendly options. It’s been a success with local Muskoka families and seasonal residents ever since.
Louis’ II (left) was transformed into Main St Local Kitchen (right) in 2017
And this week, the Clarkes celebrate a milestone five-year anniversary for Main St Local Kitchen Inc. They have become a well-loved fixture and active business owners in beautiful downtown Huntsville, Ontario.
Patrons often encounter Ryan in the dining room as he loves table-side visits. His time spent on the floor has allowed him to get to know and stay up to date with dine-in guests from near and far.
Ryan smiles as he shares: “We’ve raised our daughter here, and we’ve been here long enough to watch other people’s kids grow. And it’s special to see that with the cottage families who visit us every summer.”
When asked about the reason behind their success, even in the face of tremendous adversity, the Clarkes shared the following sentiments: “We’ve faced a lot of challenges, but what holds true is that we have an amazing team of employees who motivate us to stay the course and work harder.”
The fact that Main St Local Kitchen continues to grow and be such a respected employer can be attributed to their focus on business strategy, staying true to their core values, and the values of their loyal customers.
“We have a community of people who have and continue to rally around us as a business to encourage us, and put a smile on our faces. This community validates every day we go to work. And we are so thankful. We can’t believe it’s been five years already. I guess time flies when you are having fun!” exclaims co-owner Christina Clarke.
If you have not experienced Main St Local, why not stop in during this month’s A Taste of Huntsville and say hello. The Clarkes and their friendly staff would love to welcome you.
Main St Local Kitchen is located at 24 Main St. E. Find them online at mainstlocal.ca.
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