The owners of one of Eastern Ontario’s top eateries

Aug 17th, 2018 | By | Category: Connecting With, On The Cover

The Antrim Truck Stop in Arnprior is one of the busiest restaurants in Eastern Ontario. It is many faceted, highlighted by its home-cooked menu, its unusual gift shop, a busy bakery, a convenience outlet, and is a haven for truckers.

Mary Cook talked with co-owner Gail Cameron about the restaurant, and how it reached the outstanding success it enjoys today.

Y@H: Where did it all start?

GC: We purchased the property at Antrim from my parents in 1977. My husband Jack was a trucker and I was brought up in the restaurant business, so it was a good fit.

Y@H: The name implies your first thought was to cater mainly to truckers. Was that what you had in mind?

GC: Yes it was for sure. We definitely got our start with truckers. Since Jack was a trucker he knew what they required. We had a tire business for trucks, a Western Star dealership where we sold trucks, parts and service, diesel fuel, showers and a truckers’ store. Then in the restaurant we served up home-made meals. The key to the restaurant was, and still is, serve up a good, hearty, home-made meal – truckers’ style – lots of it.

Y@H: What were those first few months like? Did you ever dream the restaurant would reach the status it holds today?

GC: Not at all. It was tough, lots of long hours and hard work. And as we were unsure of how it was going to go, Jack continued to drive truck for the first six months in case we might still require his income.

Y@H: Why was Antrim Truck Stop moved to its present location?

GC: We moved to our present location in Arnprior as Hwy. 417 bypassed us at the location in Antrim.

Y@H: How do you manage to attract so many truckers? There seems to be a long line-up regardless of the time of day or what day of the week I go there.

GC: The truck stop has so evolved since moving to Arnprior. Our bakery was new, the God & Country store was new. We enforce the motto that it’s 1/3 food, 1/3 service and 1/3 cleanliness.

Y@H: Where do the truckers come from?

GC: East to West, North to South, Canada and the United States.

Y@H: Your restaurant is considered one of the top eating spots in Eastern Ontario. What is the secret to running a top eatery?

GC: Home-made meals and home-baked goods. And again, 1/3 food, 1/3 service and 1/3 cleanliness – 100% of our attention has to be on those ingredients. We won an award for the cleanest washrooms in Ontario.

Y@H: What services to you offer truckers?

GC: We sell trucks, parts and service for transports, diesel fuel, showers, and as the song goes “40 acres to turn that rig around” (not really, maybe 20).

Y@H: Do the drivers use the same facilities as your regular restaurant customers?

GC: Yes, with the only exception being the showers that we provide for truckers.

Y@H: Antrim Truck Stop isn’t only a restaurant. You have one of the most unique gift shops in the area, and it has a definite theme. Can you elaborate?

GC: Our God and Country shop was started because we are Christian, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and for sure that “by the Grace of God go we.”

Y@H: Very few people leave the restaurant without something from your bakery. Where do you find such exceptional bakers in a small community like Arnprior?

GC: Exceptional bakers is a good definition. Some come with experience and some we train. Our wonderful experienced bakers do most of the training of the inexperienced. For example, our 15-year-old granddaughter Pyper, prefers to be a baker, rather than out in the public eye.

Y@H: You have an exceptional staff. They all seem to be so happy in their jobs, and the same faces have been there for years.

GC: Yes, we do have exceptional staff that have been with us a long time, and they are all our greatest asset, that cannot be measured. We even have staff still with us for as long as 35 years.

Y@H: How personally involved are you in the day-to-day running of the business?

GC: I am basically on the advisory committee. Our daughter Tiffany is the General Manager of the Restaurant building. Her husband Clint is the General Manager of the Contracting division, Jack runs the dealership, and our niece Jade is the Office/Accounting Manager.

Y@H: Running a many faceted business like Antrim Truck Stop must be a daily challenge. Is it worth the effort, and what do you personally get out of it?

GC: What we personally get out of running the Antrim Truck Stop is that we have over 100 people on the payroll. That is rewarding in itself, contributing to the local economy and the community.

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