After a challenging year, Warren Hennessy of Hendows Fine Food is marking a new beginning with a new location for his restaurant and catering business at 116 Parkhill Road in Peterborough,
According to Hennessy, the restaurant has moved from its previous location at 309 Townsend Street since its landlord sold it. However, the move is an incredibly positive and timely change for Hendows Fine Food.
“It’s a much better location,” Hennessy told kawarthaNOW in an interview last week. “We’re getting ready to open, and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve had a lot of inquiries, and we haven’t even opened yet — we’re just cleaning and prepping.”
The restaurant, which opened on Tuesday (July 6), is located in the former Nicholls Oval Restaurant, at the plaza where the Rotary Greenway Trail crosses Parkhill Road.
Hennessy says he has completely transformed the inside of the building by cleaning and redecorating. With high schools and elementary schools out for the summer, Hennessy says he received help with cleaning and setting up from his teacher friends.
The change in locations comes after a challenging year for Hendows due to the pandemic. Between the lack of in-person dining and events to cater, Hennessy says the latest lockdown greatly affected his business.
“The lockdown in December hurt us, and the next one just killed us,” Hennessy recalls. “It was absolutely devastating. I would say we’re down over 80 per cent.”
At its former location, catering was Hendows’ primary source of income before the pandemic — once catering 15 weddings in a single year.
“That was my big income,” Hennessy says. “You get three or four weddings of 200 people, and that makes a year to live off.”
With the restrictions on events and large gatherings this year, Hennessy has only two weddings of 50 people to cater. However, these events are still subject to cancellation depending on the COVID-19 situation.
As for the restaurant side of his business, Hennessy says breakfast was his most popular option pre-COVID.
“Since people were locked up for so long, they don’t go for breakfast anymore,” Hennessy explains. “Nobody gets breakfast for pickup. Who wants to take cold eggs home?”
So while the move is an exciting new beginning for Hennessy, it is also hard to do financially. Hennessy, who has quite a bit of his own money invested in the move, says he has been unable to receive government assistance for his business.
He applied for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, and like many others are reporting, had issues with the application. Although his application was received, Hennessy says it has neither been approved nor rejected.
In March, Hennessy applied for the grant and still has not received any help or resolution to the problems. He says he has contacted Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith’s office and was told they had someone working on his case, but he still has not received an update or resolution.
“It would be nice if the government gave us a little bit of help,” Hennessy says. “With the 10 or 20 grand I would have received, it would have made this move a whole lot easier.”
In terms of Hennessy’s pandemic pivots, Hendows has been kept afloat by offering home-style, take-home meals — including lasagnas, cabbage rolls, meatloaves, and more.
“People were looking to feed their families because they’re working and they’re tired,” Hennessy notes. “That’s what kept us going. A lot of my regular customers stayed regular and ordered quite often.”
In the new space on Parkhill Road, Hennessy is looking forward to hosting his regular customers in-store and expanding his customer base. Although the restaurant has no space for a patio, Hennessy says there is plenty of space inside for physically distanced indoor dining when permitted in step three of Ontario’s reopening plan, expected later in July.
At its former location, Hendows Fine Food was a catering restaurant that also happened to offer indoor dining. Their business model is now changing to focus more on the restaurant aspect. He is adjusting his menu slightly, taking some items off and adding others. Scottish batter fish-and-chips is one such item Hennessy is adding.
According to Hennessy, the “fine food” part of his business is very important to him. Hendows uses locally sourced ingredients and Chef Hennessy’s recipes are his own. Even home-style options like burgers and ribs are top quality.
“I like good food,” Hennessy remarks. “I don’t want to serve poor quality food.”
With Hendows now open at its new location, Hennessy expects to begin offering daily specials for his home-style meals. For example, on Tuesdays, they might offer meatloaf and, on Wednesdays, lasagna.
He also promised to offer a special to students.
“A burger, fries, and a pop for around 10 dollars,” Hennessy says. “It will be something like that.”
Hendows Fine Food is open at 116 Parkhill Road in Peterborough from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. To view the menu and learn more about the restaurant and catering business, visit their website at www.hendowsfinefood.com.