HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Sean Drinkwalter co-owner of the Market Street Cafe chats with his staff Kathleen Nelson, Barb Obetkoff, and Vincent Gahwiler.

The little cafe with a big heart

The Market Street Cafe has a strong base of loyal customers.

With tasty food and warm inviting atmosphere, the Market Street Cafe has been serving hungry patrons in Port Hardy for over ten years.

The cafe, located at 7030 Market Street, is owned and operated by husband and wife team Sean Drinkwalter and Glenna Schooner.

“I like to see people happy and full,” said Drinkwalter, who has been a chef for most of his life.

Although he has been cooking for years, he said his favourite thing to make has always been sauces and soups. “It’s because I enjoy starting with nothing at the base and building up the flavours.”

Drinkwalter came to the North Island 22 years ago from his home province of Ontario. “I just wanted a change – something different,” he said of his cross-country move.

After arriving on the North Island, he spent his first 10 years living in Port McNeill until he met his wife Glenna and decided to move to Port Hardy and open the cafe.

“My wife actually worked here for the previous owners, they wanted to leave so they offered her the opportunity and we took it,” said Drinkwalter, adding he was reluctant at first because he “had Alexandros when it was up in Port Hardy, and I was busy up here doing that.”

Drinkwalter finally accepted. Fast forward ten-and-a-half years, the couple is still providing the community with a popular breakfast and lunch spot.

He said while sometimes it can be hard to keep a business going in a small community, the Market Street Cafe has a strong base of loyal customers.

“We’ve got lots of good customers that support us and keep us going,” said Drinkwalter. “We have someone who comes here every day since we’ve opened, and we have our usual breakfast crowd.”

He added the summer months are usually quite busy for the cafe, with the holidays and tourist season bringing more people into town.

Drinkwalter said his wife comes up with most of the menu, he handles the back office work, and together they share the cooking supported by a small staff.

The cafe is open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and not only features a menu with breakfast and lunch options, but also a freshly stocked bakery.

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