A Port Alberni chef has won the request for proposals to fill the vacant restaurant at Harbour Quay. City of Port Alberni officials handed over the keys to Starboard Grill owner Brad De Clercq on Tuesday.
For the past three years, De Clercq has commuted from Port Alberni to Nanaimo, where he was the head chef at the Old City Station Pub. He is renowned for his candied seafood and clam chowders, recipes developed while he worked at Weigh West Marina in Tofino. He also worked at Crown Isle golf resort in Courtenay.
Now, the Vancouver Island University graduate will make his mark at home.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own restaurant,” De Clercq said. He started his professional career as a pub line cook after graduating from VIU’s culinary arts program in 1990. He has worked in restaurants in B.C. and Alberta and is now a Red Seal Chef.
De Clercq has had his eye on the quay space for a while. The restaurant has been vacant since early spring, when Water’s Edge Restaurant closed. But leaving the pub in Nanaimo was difficult, he said.
“The job that I had in Nanaimo and the ownership were great. It’s pretty hard to leave.”
City economic development manager Pat Deakin said council was keen to have a full-service restaurant in place “as early as possible”, and feel Starboard Grill will complement existing services and amenities at Harbour Quay.
“We are very excited to have Mr. De Clercq advancing his proposal here at the Harbour Quay,” Mayor John Douglas said in a statement. “The city recognizes the importance of this site in the continued growth of the Harbour Quay market and are confident that we have selected a restaurant that will be attractive to residents and visitors.”
De Clercq said his menu will cater to kids a little more than a traditional menu. “We’re going to be a family-oriented restaurant with a West Coast-style menu,” he said.
While his eatery will be primarily for food, De Clercq will apply for a liquor licence. He plans to open in September, after renovating the premises.
“Just having everything fall into place, I’m ecstatic now,” he said.