ADEL’S Restaurant in Mistissini
During my visit to the community of Mistissini last November, I had the great pleasure of meeting two of the five Brien sisters who own the ADEL’S family restaurant.
The Brien sisters became the legal owners of the restaurant in 2005. It is referred to as a family restaurant because the restaurant was built by their father Charlie Brien in 1992. Mr. Brien, who had long had an entrepreneurial spirit, started by distributing coffee and sandwiches on foot to workers at the various sites operated in the community. He did this for ten years before getting a trailer to help him transport food to facilitate delivery to workers.
Their late father’s experience began in 1959 when he worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company for eight years. He was first a storekeeper, then a cashier and finally a clerk. He later met a man from the United States who offered him a job as a heavy equipment operator from 1967 to 1970 and he worked for him during all those years in Vermont.
It was also during this period of Mr. Brien’s life that he met a restaurateur who provided him with valuable advice on how to start a business. He knew that the time was right for him to begin his entrepreneurial journey. Setting up his new restaurant business was an exceptional project and the timing was perfect, as there was no competition in his community at the time.
Beginning of the project
When he started, he opened a small café. The restaurant included two Coleman stoves, a counter, and about five stools to accommodate customers.
The menu consisted of a simple breakfast, soups, sandwiches, burgers, and hotdogs. The café was popular in the community. A year later, Mr. Brien added another section to the café featuring a grill, pool tables, a jukebox, and a television set. They also sold basic groceries such as bread, butter, milk, etc.
Before the five sisters owned the restaurant, it was the youngest of the sisters named Laurie, who had studied cooking, who took over the business and renamed it “Denise Restaurant”. In 2003, the five sisters joined forces and discussed the construction of a new, larger building for the restaurant. Their father Charlie had set aside funds for the construction of a new, larger building so that his daughters could expand the family restaurant.
How the name was chosen
The name A*D*E*L*S was chosen to honour the five women entrepreneurs. Each letter represents the first letter of each of the first names of the Brien sisters: Annie, Denise, Elizabeth, Laurie and Sharon.
The restaurant’s speciality is definitely pizza! Their pizza is so popular that, as of this winter, the owners have planned to invest in a second pizza oven to be able to meet demand. I asked them if there was any interest in selling healthier food and their answer was simple: often people make healthier food at home so when they go out to restaurants, they are looking to treat themselves. They already tried adding some healthier dishes to their menu but the sales for this type of food were not very good. Their after-the-fact response to this was, “We have to sell what people want to eat at the restaurant and that happens to be pizza, poutine, burgers, etc.”
In addition to operating the 110-seat dining area from 7:30 am to 7 pm, seven days a week, they also offer a delivery service and operate the community arena canteen. They have a team of around twenty employees and generally serve about 200 tables a day.
An important member of their company is certainly Mr. Chris Richard, who is from Nova Scotia. He was appointed restaurant manager seven years ago. Mr. Richard helps with all matters relating to administration and information technology.
Next spring, the sisters plan to change things up a little in their dining area by installing a self-service counter, like in the cafeteria, while still maintaining table service availability. To wrap things up, I found this meeting very inspiring, because one could say that if Mr. Brien had not met his restaurateur friend in Vermont and above all taken his entrepreneurial advice seriously by taking action, ADEL’S restaurant might not exist today.
If you pass through the community of Mistissini, be sure to visit this emblem which will make you feel, among other things, the warm welcome of community members in a place that makes you feel like you are with family.
To peruse other business portraits, please visit our blog.