When John MacPherson was only 13, he started helping out around the Snow Queen Dairy Bar. It was his parent's restaurant at the time, and he has never actually left the restaurant business.
Today, 35 years after John and Cynthia, his wife took over ownership from John’s parents Marie and Lauchie MacPherson, they continue the family tradition of serving quality meals at a good price.
John and Cynthia MacPherson
Their reward is a steady stream of appreciative customers looking for their favorites on the Snow Queen's large choice menu of meals and deserts.
When John's parents purchased the original Snow Queen Dairy Bar, it was on a South River location 43 years ago. Today, the original location is now called the Snow Queen Leisure Center and offers many outdoor activities. The current Snow Queen restaurant is operating at 21 James Street, in a downtown plaza location in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
In 1973, Marie & Lauchie purchased the 21 James Street property where the “Snow Queen Restaurant” is today. In 1986, John and Cynthia purchased the property and Snow Queen restaurant location. The busy business couple has continued to expand both the James Street Plaza and the Snow Queen Restaurant.
The Snow Queen Restaurant has 100 seats, and underwent a renovation in December of 2010, with a new menu. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 6:00 am, and closes at 8 pm in Winter, and 10 pm during the summer season.
John says that his daily sales start with a strong breakfast volume every morning. The Snow Queen is a family style restaurant menu and offers a full breakfast. We promote the restaurant as " The Home of the All Day Breakfast". Our breakfast menu is popular with all our customers.
"We are particularly proud of our fish chowder, which is also popular with our customers. Another popular dish is our pan fried fish dinner. We sell a lot of soups, and chowders, which are daily menu choices," says John.
"We offer a large menu to our customers, and much of what we sell is made from scratch. Customers mention that they like our menu, and they especially like our homemade desserts. Another menu decision that is popular with customers is that we purchase and serve local beef, as well as local blueberries".
We make a tremendous effort to support local for the restaurant to buy. For instance, we source our honey from local beekeepers. This way by purchasing local we have a larger impact on our local economy. I am always happy when our customers mention how much they appreciate the taste and quality of our local products.
"Everything we do, from cooking from scratch recipes, or purchasing local ingredients, takes a lot more time to do. This includes listening to what our customers say they like. I am convinced that our efforts are worth it in the long run," says John.
"We offer free WIFI to Snow Queen customers for example. Small thing to do perhaps, but our customers mentioned that they wanted it, so we added it. It is all the little things you do, and the attention to food quality and cleanliness that makes the difference in our success."
"Our success is due to a lot of things we do, but the biggest contributor to our continuing success is our staff. Our restaurant manager is Karen Delorey. She and all the front and back of the house work as a great team. My wife, and business partner Cynthia looks after the office, and our administration side of the business".
John and Cynthia have two adult children who have active career lives outside of the Snow Queen.
"Many of our staff members have been with us for over 30 years. In a small community like Antigonish, that means a lot to our customers", says John.
We are always looking for ways to improve our restaurant for our customers. A few years ago we brought in consulting Chef Alain Bosse (link: http://kiltedchef.ca) to update our menus.
"At the same time, we also completed major physical renovations along with the renewal of our restaurant menu. The upgrades and changes made a difference with our customers. Once a year we review everything on our menu and make changes as needed from the feedback we get from our customers".
"At one time I used to do a lot of promoting. Today, we depend on the word of mouth to bring us more customers. I have been very active in the community over the past 30 years, including the local Chamber of Commerce, but not involved so much now."
"Another large part of our success with the Snow Queen is the decision we made to join the UNIPCO restaurant buying group. I am so glad that I am part of a true Maritime organization, with great business values".
"UNIPCO is a great asset for our business. UNIPCO would be a great asset for any restaurateur. It is a great help knowing that UNIPCO' office staff is keeping a watchful eye on our product pricing. It is clear to me that the price of products we use every day are so critical today to a restaurant staying in business".
On top of the pricing watchdog role, the rebate cheque we regularly receive from UNIPCO makes a huge difference to our business success. We work long hours and sacrifice family time to keep our customers happy. Every time I get a rebate cheque for my purchases from UNIPCO, I am reminded of how much of this earned money goes directly to our bottom line to reward us for the work we do for our customers".
"I cannot say enough great things about UNIPCO, and their contribution to the Snow Queen restaurant's success," says John.