CHESTERVILLE — Local entrepreneurs John and Christina ‘Chrisy’ Thompson of Chesterville are bringing new life — and food and drink — to one of the village’s moribund properties.
The married couple kicked off February by announcing their acquisition of the former A.T. David’s store and plans to transform the building into the site of “sister businesses” — a pub and an ice cream/coffee shop.
“Inside of ‘Doyle’s’ will be an entrance to ‘Doyle’s Pub And Eatery’ which will provide guests with homemade comfort food, and serve wine, craft and domestic beer. Another entrance will lead to ‘Doyle’s Sweet Shop’ and will provide guests with ice cream, sweet homemade treats and specialty coffees,” they wrote in a Feb. 1 Facebook post. “This vision has been a long-standing dream that we are so excited to bring to our home town.”
They aim to start up in June 2020 at the 35 Main Street North establishment, located right off the village’s beautiful downtown waterfront.
The ‘Doyle’ moniker comes from her late mother’s nickname, Chrisy explains. “It was the nickname we had for her, as kids, and lots of people started calling her that.”
Chrisy, who previously operated a small catering business for several years, says her mother “is kind of the inspiration behind the cooking and the hospitality part of it because she was such an amazing host. We’re trying to recreate the nice warm atmosphere of when we would go to her house. That’s part of the inspiration of using that name.”
The development represents an injection of good news for Chesterville, where storefronts have otherwise been emptying out in recent years. The decaying letters “shopping centre” are still affixed to the north facade of the former department store, which has sat largely unused and inaccessible to the public for the better part of a decade. Longtime proprietor Laura David died in 2018 at the age of 92.
The building was the “new” version of the David family retail business when constructed in 1972 and remains in good shape despite some basement flooding that occurred after a water pipe froze and burst, according to the couple.
The basement is an otherwise naturally dry space, John adds, and the roof is in excellent condition, having been replaced in 2015.
“Before we bought it, we had a structural engineer in to check it, and he said it’s a very sound building. He said you could drive a Sherman tank through it,” he says.
Renovation plans for the structure include creating a common entry vestibule with separate doors leading into the related businesses — as well as changing the look of the exterior. The old cedar shingles will go, to be replaced with new signage and paint. “We’re going to give it a fresh new look.”
The couple say they’ve been considering re-entering the hospitality industry in some fashion since Chrisy closed her catering enterprise. “When this building became available, we just got thinking of some different ideas for it. We just thought those two shops we would be a good blend … and get rid of some vacant windows,” John says.
“And the layout inside is perfect for what we want to do,” says Chrisy.
Each of the two establishments will have seating for 30, according to the couple. And the pub side will not be a “bar” in the traditional sense because it won’t offer hard liquor, they say.
“We’re trying not to compete with other businesses, but sort of try to complement them,” John says. “We’re not doing the breakfast crowd; our hours will be 11 in the morning until eight at night.”
Longer hours may apply for special bookings and occasions, Chrisy adds.
A local electrician and member of North Dundas Council, John concedes their targeted opening date has been described “an aggressive schedule” by their contractors but sometime in June remains the target.