SAINT JOHN — People in Saint John will be able to get some refined home-style cooking uptown at the end of the month.
Ethel & Mary’s, a diner-style restaurant aiming to give customers a sense of nostalgia and surprise by applying culinary knowledge to home-style, family favourite dishes, will officially open at 107 Princess Street on February 25.
“It’s not going to be a huge menu, but we’re going to try to have a couple of sandwiches, a couple of soups, some options of bread that you can buy and some pies, tarts, muffins, little things like that. We’ll also have our coffee and everything,” says owner Matthew Elliott. “Basically, we’ll open and you’ll be able to come and at least see the spot, try something, say hello, and we’ll build up from there.”
It’s been a long road to get to this day. The Princess Street location needed a lot of renovations, most of which Elliott has done himself. Back in October, he launched an Indiegogo campaign to keep the restaurant on track to open in a timely manner. The campaign raised $8,600 of its $10,000 goal, which Elliott says was enough to keep things moving.
“We were really humbled and amazed by how much people were willing to help and how much people wanted to see us get open. It helped immensely. We wouldn’t be opening without it,” he says. “We didn’t reach our goal, but we got really close … We were able to keep going while we worked on one more round of funding. If we hadn’t had the Indiegogo [campaign], we would have had to just stop and then we would be opening in April.”
The Indiegogo campaign offered “perks” for donors including an Ethel & Mary’s bread subscription, a cooking class for a pair or a group from Elliott, private dinners and more. The most popular perk was the “Grandma Wall,” where for $50 Ethel & Mary’s would hang up a picture of your grandmother in the restaurant. Since the name “Ethel & Mary’s” is a tribute to Elliott’s grandmothers, he wanted to give others the opportunity to salute their grandmothers too.
“The Grandma Wall was such an awesome thing to have because it gave people a way to put their mark on the shop while helping us,” he says. “You get to walk away with having a little piece of your family involved in the shop.”
The campaign also gave Ethel and Mary’s a channel to get to know their future customers.
“It gave us away as well not only to raise funds but also to interact with our customers without being open yet,” says Elliott. “We’re able to reach out to people and have conversations and hear from people and meet some of the people who are excited about it.”
Though the opening day is finally set, Elliott says he wouldn’t be at the point without the community. Everyone from Economic Development Greater Saint John and other local business to everyone who came to try the food at his stall at the Queen Square Farmers Market.
“I’m really happy that we’re in this city doing this. I would definitely rather be here doing this than anywhere else,” says Elliott. “It really shows that the community really does want more businesses and locally-focused businesses to succeed and open up and continue building on the culture that we have in Saint John.”