Many businesses have gone through difficult times since COVID-19 paralyzed much of the economy in March 2020.
Businesses have had to adjust to Public Health’s confinement decisions. The owners of Érablière St-Germain, Véronique Lortie-Bourgeois and Karl St-Germain, were preparing for their first sugaring off season in 2020 on their huge 86-acre property in the heart of L’Ange-Gardien.
Located a few seconds from the Doherty exit on Highway 50, this agri-food business has been unable to welcome groups with a sweet tooth, wishing to take advantage of the traditional first days of spring. The 2020 season was difficult, given that people were forced to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Fortunately, 2021 has been excellent given the Ma cabane à la maison concept, which invited Quebecers to order their gourmet boxes to savour sweet moments at home. More than 110,000 of these boxes were purchased across the province, demonstrating that the people of Quebec want to keep this tradition alive.
“Since we bought our sugar bush, we have been unable to accommodate a single group for the last two sugaring off seasons,” says Véronique with a smile. “The results of our partnership with Ma cabane à la maison have exceeded our expectations. The support for sugar shacks by the people of the Outaouais region has been extraordinary. They were happy to rediscover this well-established spring tradition.”
Despite the difficult situation since the acquisition of the sugar bush, the couple has not lacked ideas for making the premises located in the middle of nature profitable. Given that receptions for 200 to 300 people will be rare in the coming year, they are transforming their room into a country restaurant, offering a friendly bistro-pub inspired menu.
As of the end of May, people will be able to enjoy a good meal on the terrace for lunches and dinners. Tartars, salads, maple salmon, not to mention the famous poutine du bûcheron with sausage, crispy pork rinds and ham with smoked barbecue sauce will be on the menu. Eventually, breakfasts will also be offered by the restaurant’s new team.
“We will become a restaurant open year-round with a sugar shack period in the spring,” explains Véronique. “We are very well located, just a few minutes from downtown Buckingham, Highway 50 and the bicycle route. We wish to offer customers a pleasant atmosphere at all times, especially in the evening around a campfire. Thanks to our location in the middle of nature, we will be able to offer a rural atmosphere in which to enjoy good food, while having a good time.”
Last summer, the Érablière St-Germain added a series of outdoor shows to its activities. According to Véronique, the facilities allow for a close relationship between the artists and the audience, again with a campfire adding to the atmosphere. The presentation of 4 to 5 shows by well-known artists is on the books for this summer. In addition, chansonniers will be on site Fridays and Saturdays during the summer, beginning June 5th with Yanik Pepin.
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the couple will be investing significant sums of money in order to produce their maple syrup directly on site, beginning next sugaring off season. They are in the process of acquiring all the maple syrup equipment, such as an evaporator, to actualize the full potential of the 6,000 taps they have on their large property. Thanks to the rental of another 4,000 to 5,000 taps, they expect to produce 3,000 gallons of maple syrup annually.
“For the first time since we bought the sugar bush, I feel like we’re able to put our game plan into place. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we can finally put our projects into effect knowing that they won’t be hurried at the last minute,” concludes this businesswoman.
To find out about the menu or the upcoming show schedule, which will be announced shortly, simply visit our website at erablierestgermain.ca. You can also stop by 562 Doherty Road to pick up take-out, and in Veronique’s word, you can still pick up the traditional crispy pork rinds.
562, chemin Doherty à L’Ange-Gardien