CARBONEAR, NL — After just over eight months of business, Fritou Chicken in Carbonear has closed its doors.
Ed Whalen has a long-standing career as a franchisee and businessperson in the Conception Bay North area. For decades, he was one of the first Mary Brown’s franchisees in Canada, with locations in Bay Roberts and Carbonear.
However, when Whalen’s franchise agreement came to an end in 2016, he and several business partners moved on to a new business endeavour – Fritou Chicken.
In June 2017, Fritou Chicken opened in Carbonear as the first location for the chain in Newfoundland.
The restaurant was housed in the same building as Mary Brown’s original location, which Whalen owns.
But Fritou Chicken has now closed less than a year after its original opening date.
“There was just a steady decline in business over the months,” Whalen told the Compass from inside the restaurant, still bearing the Fritou colour scheme and menu boards.
“When we first opened up, business was great. The place was always full of people, everything was going good. I wasn’t here all too often, but when I was there were always plenty of people here, especially in the summer, but over the months, we just got less and less busy, and it just wasn’t enough to keep the place open.”
While Whalen said he was disappointed to close the restaurant’s doors, he wasn’t entirely sure what led to the decline in business, adding most comments he received from visitors and customers were positive.
“There were a few things we were told, you know, watch our prices, and some other small issues, but a lot of people told me they really enjoyed the food. It is what it is now, but I never heard much negativity,” he said.
Closing Fritou Chicken does not necessarily mean the end of the location, however. Whalen said several interviews had been conducted over the past few days regarding the possibility of opening a new chain restaurant at the Columbus Drive location and giving the building its third run at fast food.
A quick walk through the building shows what Fritou Chicken left behind – a kitchen full of equipment ready for use, as well as brand-new bathrooms.
This, as Whalen explained, creates a perfect atmosphere for a new restaurant to take over in a fairly short time.
Because of this, Whalen has high hopes that closing Fritou Chicken is not the final chapter for the building.
“Things are still looking up again,” Whalen said, indicating that one such interviewee was even looking to reopen Fritou Chicken and give the chain a second chance.
“So that’s sort of where we stand now – Fritou is closed, but I have no doubt something else will be taking its place, maybe even Fritou again. We’ve got a beautiful location here, all the fryers and kitchen equipment you could want, even a freezer room ready to go. This definitely isn’t the end of the building, and maybe not even the end of Fritou, who knows?”