Charlie and Sandy Griese’s customers love to travel and they send the couple postcards from exotic locations or deliver them in person when they get back home and drop by for dinner.
“They’ve been a lot of places,” said Charlie. “They really have, everywhere from China to Alaska.”
Rather than tuck the postcards away in a drawer Sandy has used them to decorate their fish and chips restaurant Captain Jack’s on Woodlawn Road
“They are all over,” said Sandy. “They aren’t perfectly placed on the wall. That’s just the way they came in, one at a time.”
The postcard motif has become a signature characteristic of the restaurant and a way for the couple to show appreciation for their customers’ loyalty.
“We live for our customers and they are very loyal,” said Sandy. “One of the groups that comes here every Friday night just left today to go to Spain for three weeks. They are the ones that started us on the post cards.”
Charlie was born in the Guelph area and graduated from Conestoga College’s food and beverage program. He developed his signature recipes over many years in the business.
“I was the cook in a schnitzel restaurant for four years,” he said. “I was a manager at a variety of places before that.”
Sandy spent most of her professional life in the world of finance.
“I was born and raised in Guelph then moved away for 20 years,“ she said. “I was in banking in Toronto for 10 years and in the insurance business in the London area for 10 years.”
In 2001 Charlie was looking for a career change so he opened Captain Jack’s Restaurant and named it after his cat Jack.
“I worked for other people for a long time and I wanted to work for myself,” he said. “I’ve had other businesses but nothing that worked. Not everything works.”
Sandy has two daughters, Erika and Shannon both of whom have worked at the restaurant and it was through them that she met Charlie.
“My oldest daughter’s friend Nicole used to work here,” she said. “She told Charlie she wanted a Saturday night off and knew who could fill in for her. I had never done this in my life.”
Charlie hired her to fill in and their romance blossomed shortly after. They have been married 12 years and serving customers for 19 years.
“We’re still enjoying what we’re doing,” said Sandy. “We specialize in fish and chips and nothing compares to the halibut. The taste is just supreme.”
The menu has evolved over the years to accommodate for changing tastes and dietary restrictions. They serve traditional English fish and chips and Panko, a light Japanese breading and they just introduced schnitzel. All of the shrimp and fish are prepared in house.
“We have introduced gluten free options such as gluten free batter for the Halibut and chips,” said Charlie. “It was years in the making with many awful products in the process.”
One thing that is unlikely to change anytime soon is the postcard motif and though Charlie and Sandy don’t travel as much as their customers they have added a few of their own postcards to the wall.“People like the interior so you don’t want to change things too much,” Sandy said with a grin. ”You’re going to be jealous because we went to West Montrose and Elmira in one day. We got postcards of them too.”