Restaurant an iconic feature on Rondeau Bay

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Rondeau Joe’s owner Paul Trudell knows he has a good thing going just outside Rondeau Provincial Park. For the past 15 years, he’s been serving up quality food and incredible views of Rondeau Bay.

Not many business owners in Chatham-Kent can say the pandemic was a benefit; Paul Trudell can.

Trudell, owner of Rondeau Joe’s restaurant and pub just outside of Rondeau Provincial Park, is celebrating 15 years in business. He said the COVID-19 pandemic actually sent him business from many kilometres away, and changed people’s mindsets.

The pandemic saw patios open before indoor dining was allowed.

“We have one of the largest, if not the largest, patios in Chatham-Kent. We had people scouring from big cities where they could go because their city was closed down,” Trudell recalled. “They’d check our website, look at the pictures and decided they were willing to drive here from Toronto to go for dinner.”

Trudell said some of those visitors are still customers to this day.

And these days, customers seek out a nice spot on the patio to enjoy the view of Rondeau Bay, or to watch the turtles sun themselves in “Turtle Cove” in the small marina that is part of Rondeau Joe’s.

“Now, on the poorer-weather days, that’s when people go indoors. Covid changed people’s mindsets,” Trudell said. “Before Covid, everybody would fill the inside (of the restaurant) first. They’d then think, ‘Do I have to sit outside.’”

That’s no longer the case.

“Now they say, ‘I want to sit outside.’”

Trudell has put a great deal of blood, sweat and tears into Rondeau Joe’s over the past 15 years. It wasn’t easy. In fact, he said that for the first five years, if someone offered him what he paid for the place, on top of what he invested in renovations, he’d have sold it in a heartbeat.

Today, he just shakes his head.

“It’s been a lot of perseverance. I’ve got it (the restaurant) tuned in. There’s not a lot of renovations left to do. I’ve fixed it up. I’ve invested back into it,” he said. “You just keep doing the little things year after year and people appreciate it.”

How many restaurant owners can say customers arrive clapping and cheering? Trudell can.

“On opening night, people came in cheering because we were open,” he said. “It’s kind of a unique experience that way.”

Only being open five months of the year puts pressure on Trudell and the restaurant, however.

“You only have five months to pay all the same bills other restaurants have the full year to pay,” he said.

Some people compared his menu pricing to that of other restaurants in Chatham. He said that’s an unfair comparison.

“The atmosphere is priceless. Plus, there are different grades of food and I pick the higher ends,” he said.

Trudell endures staffing, food and beverage and maintenance of equipment issues that restaurants in an urban setting typically don’t have. But he wouldn’t change a thing.

All he has to do is stop for a second and enjoy the view.

New animal hospital opens

Chatham-Kent’s newest animal hospital, Thames Valley Animal Hospital, is now accepting new clients looking for comprehensive and compassionate veterinary care to the area.

Located just off Richmond Street, on 670 Irwin St. in Chatham, Thames Valley Animal Hospital offers a wide range of services designed to meet the diverse needs of pets and their owners.

“I wanted to open an animal hospital where its main goal was to provide exceptional care for pets while making it affordable and accessible for their owners.” said Dr. Abdul Gafoor Veetil, chief Veterinarian and owner of Thames Valley Animal Hospital, in a media release. “Our pets are members of the family; I’ve brought in an extraordinary staff who are committed to meeting the pet’s needs with excellence and empathy.”

Pet owners can now access routine wellness examinations, vaccinations, medication, and pet nutrition services for overall health and well-being.

The facility is equipped for soft tissue surgery, animal dentistry, lab work, and radiology; with the ability to offer ultrasound and orthopedic surgery in the near future.

The vet clinic will be open until 7 p.m. on weekdays and can be accessed via appointment on weekends.

For more information or to book an appointment, visit their website at tvah.ca or call 226-884-5161.

Passport clinics

Chatham-Kent–Leamington MP Dave Epp is hosting two passport clinics next week in Chatham-Kent.

Both take place June 26.

The first is from 10 a.m. to noon in Highgate at Highgate Hall, 256 King St. S.

The second is to occur at Tilbury Knights of Columbus Hall at 20 Dupuis Ave. in Tilbury from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Crow City Barbers’ Steph Moore and Jacob Reed stand outside their shop in Chatham

Crow City Barbers

Crow City Barbers is up and clipping on Llewellyn Street in Chatham.

Owner Jacob Reed took a circuitous path to running a barber shop. He relocated to Chatham from Edmonton to work on pipelines in the area. He had a tough time finding a barber shop that suited his tastes.

“Having frequented top-notch establishments out west, I found myself driving to London for my haircuts. This experience sparked the realization that there was a void in Chatham-Kent that I could fill,” he said.

He forged a partnership with his fiancée, Steph Moore, and her friend, Danielle, who Reed said are “exceptionally skilled barbers.

“Together, we set out to create an unparalleled barbershop experience, offering services such as hot-towel, straight-blade shaves in a welcoming atmosphere where clients can relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and socialize,” Reed said. “Our goal is to provide a space where individuals can not only receive top-notch grooming services but also unwind and connect with others.”

The shop is located at 33 Llewellyn St. in Chatham.

  • Business Voice is a bi-monthly column in The Chatham Voice that highlights some of the achievements made and efforts underway in Chatham-Kent’s business community. Send your information to bruce@chathamvoice.com.

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