Written by Debra Lynn
The rest of the world may have McDonald’s, but Port Alice now has its very own McWilkie’s.
McWilkie’s Fast Food, served out of two trailers at the Rumble Beach Marina, is run by Port Alice Residents, Brendon Wilkie and Emily McKay. They serve beer-battered cod, homemade fries, burgers and chilli dogs for starters, with intentions to expand their menu over time.
Wilkie says, “I’d say our feature is our fries. We have a family process that works really well.” He calls it “an Irish east coaster’s family potato recipe.”
Their first day of business was on Nov. 18, which had them running off their feet. Wilkie characterized the day as “organized chaos” as approximately 50 people turned up at the marina looking for something to eat between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Emily McKay hails from Ontario, having grown up in Kitchner. Wilkie is originally from Cape Breton Island but grew up in Ontario in a town called Elmira, just north of Kitchner.
Wilkie, McKay and their five-year-old son, Lionel, arrived in Port Alice four years ago. Before coming to Port Alice, they lived briefly in Port Hardy. When they visited Port Alice for the first time, Wilkie says, “We walked the sea walk and fell in love. We promised to move here eventually from that very point in time.”
Wilkie and McKay were prompted to open food trailers because of the lack dining options in Port Alice, and out of a desire to be their own bosses. Starting their endeavor six months ago, they traveled to Port Alberni to buy their food trailer which “got sold under our nose.” They then were “all over the place” looking for trailers while securing a business loan from Community Futures.
Between the two of them, they share a wide variety of skills. McKay has years of customer service experience, including experience making candy and lifejackets, and has attended carpentry school. When Wilkie was young, he attended chef’s school at Fanshawe College in London Ontario. He has over two decades of cooking experience and has managed restaurants “for a long time.” He also dabbled in environmental engineering and insurance and is a published author. He published a book of poetry with Austin McCauley Publishers entitled The Book of 1000 Poems: Volumes 1-4 under the pseudonym Conshinz in 2019.
For those who want to “dine in,” there are seats at the marina for about 15 people. Wilkie says that people should “feel free to bring some lawn chairs and watch the boats go in and out.” The business is composed of two trailers: one is the kitchen line while the other is the storage/prep room with “tight quarters.” They will be open for business from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm.
Wilkie states that, “Writing has been fun and fruitful, but I think I am going to save my next book for an autobiography when I am an old man. It will be my final project. It’s all about serving good food and raising our son for the next few years.”
The “McWilkie team” likes to spend their free time kayaking and being with their dogs. Wilkie writes music and “other forms of writing depending on what needs to be said.”
He added his partner loves to maintain vitality through exercise, but that he is “more of a drink a couple brewskis and walk the golf course kind of guy.”
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