ABERFOYLE – After nearly a decade in business, the area has lost a family-run eatery.
The Village Family Restaurant of Aberfoyle closed its doors for good after serving customers on Sunday.
“I class all my customers as family because we are family, they’re here all the time – we do have new ones too – and I know their orders, I sit with them and before they go they come in the kitchen to say goodbye,” said owner and chef Sue Lees. “I’m going to miss them all.”
The restaurant opened at 30 Brock Rd. S. in 2014 and built a strong base of loyal customers, many of whom made sure to visit once more between when news of the pending closure broke via Facebook on Jan. 17 and its last day.
With the lease up for renewal, Lees said the new cost of rent was simply set too high for her to continue with the restaurant.
“I am a little shocked that you are closing,” commented Nancy Christine Lahaie on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “I loved the comfy atmosphere and the food was always delicious. My tummy will miss you.”
The restaurant seated 35 customers and offered takeout.
“Thank you for your excellent food, staff and years of service, especially providing holiday meals through COVID. That was such a kind and generous offering and I will always remember that gesture! All the best!” wrote Tamara Wilhelm O’Leary. “We are going to miss you too and are sad you had to make this hard decision.”
Through the years, several family members and friends helped out at the restaurant, including Sue's cousin and her daughter, Vicki.
Though she’d been an owner in several restaurants before, including ones in Fergus, Morriston and Kitchener, Sue had always worked in the front with customers and not taken on cooking duties. That changed with the Aberfoyle endeavour, which focused on Greek and Canadian foods.
“I was a bit worried but it worked out fantastic. People know the difference between franchise food and homemade – they can tell,” Sue said, explaining it was her partner, Jim Lees, who urged her to take up the challenge and cook like she does at home. “Everything is homemade. … None of it is out of a can.”
While Sue handled the vast majority of the cooking, she said Jim was responsible for their gravy and most of their soups.
Asked how she feels about the restaurant’s closure, Sue described it as a “strange” sensation.
“I guess it’ll sink in to me when we’re done everything at the end of the month,” she said, referring to when they need to have all their equipment and other items removed.
As for what’s next, that’s not yet been decided.
“I have a lot to do at my house now,” said the Aberfoyle resident, noting she’s already received an offer to work at another nearby restaurant, and someone else proposed to help her set up a new restaurant, in a different location, with reduced hours.
“I just want a few days off, then get back to it,” Sue said. “I have to do something.
“I don’t really want to (work) full-time, just to get out and about.”