The view Clark McKay and Carol Pierce see from the Floathouse

Clark McKay and Carol Pierce: How COVID changed the meaning of take-out

Clark McKay and Carol Pierce have been running the Floathouse restaurant, on Cortes Island, since last October. 

First winter in 10 years

Though they have both been working in the industry for 20 years, this winter is different.  As a result of COVID, the community has gone into semi-isolation. For many local residents, picking up their food is one of their principle outings for the week. 

This has brought about an unexpected benefit to both Pierce and Clark. 

“This is the first winter in 10 years that I’ve spent in Canada,” she explained.

A dessert

Carol Pierce

Carol Pierce is a Quadra Island resident.  

She was the Tsa Kwa Luten Lodge‘s food and beverage manager, before going on to manage a pub in Campbell River.

Then Pierce ‘gypsied around the world’ for six years:  “Southeast Asia; Central America; South America; the southern United States.

Enter Clark McKay

Clark McKay was born in Calgary, Alberta, but worked in the Masset area of Haida Gwaii for four summers. He used to helicopter in to help serve guests willing to spend $10,000 to stay for a few days at an exclusive fishing resort. After that, Clark worked in some high end hotels in Alberta.

He met Carol at the April Point Marina, on Quadra Island, during the 2019 tourist season. She was the food and beverage manager, and he was the souschef  (second in command of the kitchen).

“We had a friendly relationship, hit it off well, and after that everything is history,” said McKay

At the end of the 2019 season, they went to southeast Asia for three months. They started in Vietnam, travelled up the coast by train, and then helped a friend of Carol’s open a restaurant in Thailand. 

a Sunday entree

Back to Quadra Island

Now they have a ten acre hobby farm near the lighthouse on the Southern end of Quadra Island. 

“Pigs, goats and chickens,” said Pierce.

“And a goose, but no tambourine,” quipped McKay.  

They make the trip over to Cortes on Thursdays. 

A Floathouse staple

The Floathouse Restaurant 

The Floathouse is part of Gorge Harbour Marina and the manager, Bill Dougan, has provided them with a ’really nice RV’ where they sleep on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. 

“To have the opportunity to work through the winter is super cool. We really enjoy the whole thing, and to have the opportunity to …”  began Pierce, 

“ … Do what we love,” interjected McKay. 

Pierce continued, “To provide at least something for people right now, when there is just not a lot going on.” 

They are open Fridays and Saturdays, 1-8 PM; Sunday brunch 9 AM until 2:30 PM.

“We’re getting lots of support from everybody on Cortes. There are definitely different things that factor into it, like the weather. When we had that little bit of snow, people stayed home,” said Pierce. 

Prime rib night

The prime rib is ‘super popular.’ So was Southern fried chicken night. 

McKay says he is ‘just having fun chefing again.” 

Though they are only open on weekends, the Floathouse is busy. 

Pierce said they do not have anything to compare this winter’s experience with, “both of us are used to summer/seasonal employment in this exact area.”

All photos courtesy of Clark McKay and Carol Pierce.

Links of interest:

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

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