Barb Bleck and Will Stevenson, owners of Enchanted Eats Café in Tillsonburg, may have turned a corner at 38 Ridout St. West.
After a successful February opening, they knew they had found the right spot.
“I was busy – I was packed,” said Bleck.
“Everything is homemade here, no preservatives, no additives. All homemade. They never walk away hungry. That’s how I was taught.”
The menu features unique sandwich and salad combos, soup, unique salads, appetizers, dinners, vegetarian meals, and desserts.
“I have no greasy foods, no deep-fried foods,” stressed Bleck.
“I’m a professional caterer and I used to own the Wharf Restaurant in Port Stanley. I’ve done hundreds of wedding … so I will be pushing the catering.”
It just happened to be unfortunate timing with COVID-19 arriving a few weeks after their opening and the government mandated temporary restaurant closures.
It took time to arrange takeout, pickup and delivery service and business was slow. Since mid July, they’ve been able to have customers inside – Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but it was still mostly takeout/delivery.
The corner they started turning eventually arrived in the form of the town-approved outdoor patio installed the first week of August.
“Since the deck went up, we’ve been busier,” said Stevenson.
Mark Renaud, executive director of the Tillsonburg BIA, offered patio chairs and tables but first they needed to build a temporary patio on their gently sloping front lawn.
“We had no money,” said Bleck, who approached Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar. “The mayor directed us to Cephas (Panschow) who then directed us to these government funds that Tillsonburg has.”
There was another bump in the road, however, before the patio.
“We had a wheelchair ramp on the side of the building that had to be taken out (in late April/early May). Again, we were up against another wall.”
“I didn’t realize how much was involved to redo it,” Stevenson admitted. “It’s taken until now. We’ve got the permit now and he’s going to start Friday (Sept. 11) to do that ramp. It took all summer.”
Bleck credited Dennis Vandevyvere of Otter Creek Construction for delivering the wood, and installing the temporary patio. It has become an essential addition to the café.
They are making plans to have two special fundraisers on it, including a Halloween night hot dog event free for kids. Adult donations will be given to the Tillsonburg Firefighter Association for their Christmas toy-and-food sponsorship program.
“So it’s been a really big struggle, but between Dennis the deck guy, Mark and the BIA, and the Town of Tillsonburg, they all deserve a medal. It makes me emotional … the support we got from them, it’s been amazing.”
Enchanted Eats Café can be reached at 226-448-2932 or email@example.com.
After seeing the rooms upstairs, and some minor renovations, Bleck and Stevenson decided it would make a great Airbnb.
“We’ve always wanted an Air B&B – not a B&B, an Airbnb,” said Bleck. “We just got it finished.”