Deep Bay’s Ship and Shore Restaurant has new owners, and they’re bringing big portions, fresh ingredients, a renovated space and much more to the 40-year-old eatery.
Bruce and Melanie Cook hope to create a welcoming restaurant for community members and visitors alike, said the new owners.
“It’s not just our place,” said Melanie. “It’s everybody’s place.”
The restaurant, which opened up in the 1970s according to the Cooks, functioned as a 12-seater diner with good fish and chips, and a small store beside. There’s also a campground, boat launch and marine fuel station as part of the business.
Bruce’s own family history in the area predates the restaurant, with his great-great-grandfather having moved there in the 1800s. He said Cook Creek Road is named for his family.
So the restaurant was well-known to him before the opportunity to buy it came up, and he and Melanie had often considered having their own pub/restaurant.
So, when the opportunity arose, the Cooks jumped on it, they said.
The pair took possession in October, 2016, and shut the restaurant down for three months for renovations.
“Do we know what we’re doing? No. Are we going to give it a try? Yeah,” said Bruce with a laugh.
Despite not having much in the way of restaurant experience, the pair opened up the expanded eatery to a very strong, positive response, they said.
The plan was to re-open just before the herring season, and they did, opening their doors Feb. 13.
Having fishing crews stop-by frequently was a boon to the business, but the community response has been very strong as well, said Bruce.
“We are still overwhelmed with the public response,” he said. “We were a little nervous on what the public response would be, but every time the locals come in, they are so happy that we built this place, because they have a place to go out to.”
A sticking-point for the community was that the restaurant retain the existing fish and chips recipe, which they did.
Overall, the restaurant has a focus on fresh ingredients, with buns being perhaps the only pre-made parts of any meal.
The Cooks have otherwise strived to add food options inspired by what they would serve at their own family table.
Melanie eats gluten free, and so about three-quarters of the restaurant’s menu can be served gluten free upon request.
The seafood chowder is Bruce’s own family recipe, while things like the bucket list (a pound of fresh steamed clams and a bucket of Coronitas) are the Cooks’ own ideas. The nachos, for instance, are served in a cast-iron frying pan after the pair had nothing but cast-iron to cook with while at a hotel. They found the pan kept the nachos hot right through, so that’s how they’re done at their restaurant.
They also strive to be accommodating with requests as well, working to satisfy customers’ off-menu choices as time allows.
“We’ve always wanted to make (the restaurant) an extension of our house,” said Melanie. “People come in and they say, ‘where should we sit?’ We always say, ‘You can sit in the kitchen, or you can sit in the living room.’”
The experience is about being comfortable while enjoying the food and the view of the marina, the water and the mountains beyond.
Bringing 35-years of experience to the Ship and Shore is chef Gordon Doak.
He’s spent the last seven years working as a chef in large camps, serving food to 500-800 people.
This opportunity is a chance to work closer to home, and add his own flavours to things, he said.
His homemade burger patties are a specialty, while his own caesar salad dressing is tops, said Doak.
When the Cooks sought Doak out for the job, he said he could see the potential in the place, and took it as a chance to help them through the restaurant business. But the restaurant has already exceeded his expectations, he said.
“I feel really good about it, because this place has taken off bigger and better than I thought it would, to start,” said Doak. “I didn’t expect such an onslaught of people coming in. It’s really actually thrown me for a bit of a loop.”
Now he said the restaurant is in a bit of a lull, with most locals having gotten a taste. But he said the slow period won’t last for long.
“In the summer time, we are going to get smoked,” he said. “The tourists come down here, a lot of boaters — we’ll be busy all summer long.”
An upcoming special is a Sunday Brunch for Mother’s Day on May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant already has dozens of people reserved, said Doak, including his own family.
The restaurant is located at 180 Crome Point Rd. in Bowser.
Its current hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information, go to www.shipshoredeepbay.com .