Ottawa: Pelican Seafood Market and Grill

For when you can’t decide between a nice dinner out, a pre-made frozen meal, or fresh seafood to grill with friends and family, look no further than Pelican Seafood Market and Grill. Since its grand opening in 1996, Pelican Seafood Market and Grill has been a popular spot for Ottawa locals to enjoy fresh seafood-based menu items, sourced directly from their fish market. When the pandemic first began, they were in a unique position as they ran the market in addition to a traditional restaurant. 

Pelican owner Jim Foster describes the market as a “saving grace” through the course of this pandemic. When initial closures were happening across Canada, the restaurant went to strictly curbside pickup, but the market was able to remain fully open. They also offered pre-made frozen items such as lobster mac and cheese, which was perfect during those initial days of uncertainty when people felt unsafe visiting grocery stores. They saw a spike in fish market sales, with more people purchasing items to cook at home with their families instead of ordering curbside pickup of hot restaurant items.

Jim describes communication as the biggest difficulty for the restaurant in navigating the pandemic. With the implementation of curbside pickup, they found that customers were still coming inside the restaurant to check on their order instead of waiting curbside as the name implies. They’ve implemented many health and safety measures in both the restaurant and the market, but find it difficult to communicate to customers that the measures are just as much for their safety as they are for the employees.

“We had a customer that commented on the plexiglass, saying that it was strictly to protect employees from customers. In reality, it’s to protect customers from employees, since we have to interact with dozens of people each day. After clarifying that, the customer felt bad and brought us a 12-pack of beer to apologize, it was so nice.”

Community support comes in forms other than beer for Pelican Seafood Market and Grill, and the team has noticed increased support via their takeout portal. It’s not a rare occurrence for locals to order over $200 worth of takeout to support them, and people have left personal messages for the cooks on the comment area of their takeout order. The cooks find the messages so encouraging and love when people include jokes.

“We’ve seen this pandemic as a challenge, not a difficulty. As someone with an engineering background, we’ve been quick to find solutions to all the new problems that arise.” Jim explains. “By March 17th we had all the plexiglass up in the market. Our restaurant manager quickly created an extensive protocol about how to treat customers. We just want our customers to feel safe.”

For more information on Pelican Seafood Market and Grill, please visit https://www.pelicanseafood.ca/.

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