Le Petit Poutine owners opening brick-and-mortar restaurant in tough economic times

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A number of businesses, especially restaurants, ended up shutting down during the pandemic due to the lockdowns, rising costs of business and the lack of workers.

News10NBC visited one Rochester restaurant that’s looking to keep its success going even in tough economic times.

Petit Poutinerie officially opens its doors Friday at 44 Elton Street in Rochester, but what was once just a food truck is now competing with other restaurants, and it will need to depend on more than just its loyal customers to help keep the lights on.

"We know the truck service like the back of our hands so this is a little different, and we have a strong idea of how we like it to go," said co-owner Ronnie McClive.

After serving poutine out of a food truck for the past 10 years, the owners of Le Petit Poutine now have their own brick-and-mortar restaurant called Petite Poutinerie. We met with co-owner Elizabeth Clapp as final preparations were taking place.

"This is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a long time," Clapp said. "We’ve been looking for the right building, in the right location for about 7 of those 10-years, and we finally nailed it."

Clapp said poutine is the perfect comfort food that’s still gaining popularity here in the Rochester area.

"We’ve served thousands, and thousands of people during just one festival alone, and during Lilac, Park Ave., or Jazz we’ve really done it all. Now we’ve really built a home of our own for people to come to us whenever they want," Clapp said.

Opening up a new restaurant in this economic climate does come with its challenges. Ronnie McClive also co-owns the restaurant. Hiring staff was one of them.

"Our first round of hiring has gone extremely well so I hope this doesn’t jinx us, but I have been following the news. We’ve been reading like just about everybody else about hiring challenges, and maximum wage going up which is something that we’re working to keep up with. We really want people to be paid well," McClive said.

McClive said paying people well had its ripple effects.

"So some of our prices had to go up as a result of that, but I think that people are going to find the experience here as completely in line with everything we’ve got going on. Quality of food. Quality of service," McClive said.

According to a recent CNBC report, the food service industry is expected to reach $898 billion in sales this year. That’s up from $799 billion from last year. 2019 saw roughly $864 billion in restaurant sales.