by Stella Shepard
Amber Jenkins of Little Pond is a young entrepreneur and business owner with a good news story of determination and resilience in rural PEI.
In 2017, she purchased the Bluefin Restaurant in Souris and successfully operated the food and beverage business. Tragic struck in May of 2020. A fire destroyed the restaurant that had been an icon in Souris since the 70s, where a 14-year-old Amber had her first summer job as a bus girl.
Amber forged ahead and focused on the future. In 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, she launched Strait Goods, located on a stretch of highway in Fortune. The year-round restaurant has a 50-seat capacity and also offers on-line ordering. The business offers café style dine-in and take-out dining during the day and then switches to take-out only in the evening because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Strait Goods offers comfort food, refined and designed with original recipes from the Bluefin Restaurant,” says Amber.
“As we continue to adapt and move forward, we must search for the silver linings, pursue possibilities, and keep our families and friends close. Community support is vital. It took a pandemic to prove what I believed all along: it is the locals who support Island businesses. If you show up for the locals, the locals will show up for you.
“Operating a food and beverage business in rural PEI is the most rewarding experience of my life. I am grateful to be in business and to be able to put people back to work.”
About the staff
Strait Goods employs 17 staff. Amber’s husband, Chef Jordan Dennis, is a trained Chef and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada-Holland College. He has worked in restaurants and resorts across Canada and now works side-by-side with Amber.
“When hiring, I look for staff with experience in the industry,” says Amber. “But I am also willing to hire and train staff without any experience. I hire locally to support the community and in return the community will support me.
“The best ways to apply for a job is to drop by Strait Goods with a resumé or email a resumé.”
“I recently purchased another food and beverage business located on the Harborfront in Souris,” says Amber. “We will be hosting special summer events, such as micro-weddings. About five staff will be needed at the new location.
“By the fall, the business in Souris will be operating full-time, year-round. I will be hiring about 10 more servers and kitchen workers.”
Succeeding during the time of COVID-19
“COVID-19 has forced business owners and staff members to make changes,” says Amber. “In my experience, those who are ambitious and want to be employed will be successful in the workplace.
“I think COVID-19 has created a great group of individuals who are willing to work. They want employment, and they want to do well. This mindset is very encouraging to employers as we all deal with such drastic changes.”