Burgers and a beer overlooking the boats at Gorge Harbour Marina

Eating out on Cortes Island: Summer residents, campers and boaters

CKTZ News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There have been a lot of people eating out on Cortes Island this summer and most of them are tourists or summer residents.

Photo credit: Summertime red cod taco, basil citrus salsa, & linnaea green – Photo courtesy the Toki Bap Cafe

Carly from the Co-op Bakery and Deli, in Mansons Landing, was just coming off a long shift when CKTZ News caught up with her. She was too tired to talk, too tired to even think – other than to agree that it was very busy. 

Sujon from the Toki Bap Cafe, also in Mansons Landing, replied by email ,“Yes, Tourism is back. The boating community, the local holiday makers and summer residents are all flocking to Cortes. However, Toki Bap continues with Fridays only service and is swarmed. The biggest challenge is finding helpers/staff. The wages are better than last year but everyone on the island is already working.“

“Canada Day was amazing. Then there was a little bit of a lull after that, where we were steady but not crazy-busy like we are now,” said Carol Pierce from the Floathouse Restaurant, in the Gorge Harbour Marina. “Mid July was when we started being at capacity in the evenings. Lunches: same thing, we are busy from 12:00 right on. We are sooo busy right now. We are at capacity for dinner most every evening, we’re booking about two days ahead for dinner.” 

She still sees quite a few familiar faces, but said the majority of her customers are campers or boaters.

There are steps leading up to platform, covered by a blue canopy. A food counter and til are inside. A vividly painted truck with Sunflowers painted on the side, is behind the platform and off to one side is a trailer/kitchen
The Sunflower Food Truck – Photo courtesy Carie Taylor

The Sunflower Food Truck, also in the marina, reopened the first week in May, but Carie Taylor describes business as ‘quiet’ up until July 1st. There were good days when she turned a profit, but, more often, the business operated at a loss. 

The tourists showed up on July 1st. 

“They came, filled up the island and business first doubled on July 1st and then tripled,” said Taylor. 

The Sunflower opened last Fall and this is its first summer on Cortes Island. Taylor was just getting used to ordering for twice the volume and scheduling staff, when sales tripled. 

“We’re just learning to adjust. We’re not overwhelmed; are able to keep up – it is just taking time to get used to it,” she explained.

There are still a lot of locals coming, but she believes about 70% of her sales are to tourists that come to the resort.

“People keep asking why we are going to close in September and why we are not open all year round,” added Taylor. “I know a lot of people really do not like the tourist season, but without the tourists we couldn’t be open, the business is barely making money. So I am really grateful for the tourists, even though the island changes and becomes really different.” 

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