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P.E.I. couple perseveres with new restaurant after fire in Souris

Amber Jenkins looks over the charred remains of her Bluefin Restaurant in Souris in this May 2020 file photo.
Amber Jenkins looks over the charred remains of her Bluefin Restaurant in Souris in this May 2020 file photo. - Contributed

Life is unscripted.

The lives of Jordan Dennis and Amber Jenkins are shining examples.

The paths of both Dennis and Jenkins were unique, eventful and quite separate from one another until finally crossing in 2019, resulting in a personal and professional partnership.

The pair now own and operate a new restaurant in Fortune. The journey they both took to get to this point in their lives is a roundabout one.

Jenkins credits growing up in the country in a fishing family with acquiring the discipline for working hard and nurturing the spirit for entrepreneurship — traits she has leaned on strongly to overcome considerable adversity.

She enthusiastically took the plunge into business when she purchased the Bluefin Restaurant in Souris in 2017 — a place she earned her first paycheque washing dishes in 2002 at the age of 15.

Jordan Dennis, who proposed to Amber Jenkins in November, describes his partner as having a positive outlook that is quite infectious.  - Contributed
Jordan Dennis, who proposed to Amber Jenkins in November, describes his partner as having a positive outlook that is quite infectious. - Contributed

Like many restaurants and other businesses, Jenkins did her best to not fold under the crushing weight of the pandemic that brought P.E.I. to a screeching halt in mid-March.

Then fire destroyed the building in May.

The fire managed to put an end to the popular restaurant but did not come close to curbing Jenkins’ resolve.

“The fire was full of the loss of things, a place, but those things really can be changed and replaced – the people who mark your life cannot,’’ she said.

She emerged from the crushing loss with a fierce determination to forge ahead in business and in life with Dennis, who she met in 2019 when he became her Sysco representative for the Bluefin.

After working tirelessly together all summer to create Strait Goods, the pair opened their new restaurant in the community of Fortune just a few weeks ago.

Jenkins said early days at the restaurant have been a whirlwind, even with the business currently going with takeout only. Many Islanders have come out to support Strait Goods or the “old Bluefin” as they call it.

Jordan Dennis, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada, is in charge of the kitchen at the new Strait Goods restaurant in Fortune while his business and life partner Amber Jenkins is in charge of running the restaurant. - Contributed
Jordan Dennis, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada, is in charge of the kitchen at the new Strait Goods restaurant in Fortune while his business and life partner Amber Jenkins is in charge of running the restaurant. - Contributed

Jenkins seems only capable of seeing a glass being half full, never half empty, when she looks back at her recent past that has had so much hardship.

She remains grateful the fire that razed her former restaurant in Souris was only a catastrophe of structural damage and that no one was hurt.

“The whole world is in shambles and in many ways our lives fell apart too with so many back-to-back setbacks, but I’m so grateful for where we are today, and I know nothing can stop us now. What a beautiful place we live in.’’

Dennis said his partner’s positive outlook is contagious. He noted Jenkins has told him over and over again the couple can do anything and will find their way through these difficult times.

After cooking in restaurants, resorts and hotels across Canada, Dennis, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada, feels he has found his true place cooking in the kitchen of Strait Goods.

“Yes, it has been quite a blessing that our paths have crossed,’’ said Dennis, who proposed to Jenkins on Nov. 7.

“So, my wish and my hope is to persevere through this. I am fortunate to have a partner who has great insight.’’

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

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