It’s been a rather topsy-turvy year for The Spud Box owner Jerry Sommut.
After finding out just before Christmas that MTO had bought the property he had been operating on at the corner of Hwy. 7 and 41 in Kaladar and a chip truck wasn’t in their plans, he thought he’d found a new home at the corner of 7 and Road 38. But it turned out that Central Frontenac didn’t really have a bylaw governing chip trucks per se and when opposition arose to him being there, the Township decided it needed one.
So, despite the fact that he’d already paid the Township $1,000 as well as rent, he decided to remove his chip trailer without having ever opened or selling a single burger.
“People were calling the bylaw officer and I wasn’t even open yet,” he said. “I was just getting ready.”
He did, however, manage to work out a deal with MTO for this year and is selling chips and burgers a few metres from where his operation had been for seven years. But it’s temporary.
And he still plans to be in Sharbot Lake once everything gets worked out.
“I’m not mad, just upset at the process,” he said. “But I understand.
“I have all the necessary certifications and I’m ready when they are.
“I will open up there.”
Sommut comes from a long line of cooks starting with his grandmother who was the head chef on a Great Lakes freighter. His introduction to the business of food was helping her.
“They ‘snuck’ me onto the ship and I helped my grandmother,” he said. “It was her kitchen and she ran it that way.”
As he grew up, his family owned several restaurants and he even had one himself in Tamworth that specialized in perch and pickerel.
“I’d still like to do that again,” he said.
But Sharbot Lake appeals to him the most, not the least of which because he owns property on St. Georges Lake. And, he believes the area has great potential.
“I know I’m going to bring business to Sharbot Lake,” he said. “If I’m serving 1,000 to 1,500 burgers a day, at least one of those customers is going to make the trip through town down to the lake.
“And I don’t sell pizza or wings so if people want those, I’ll tell them exactly where they can get them in town.”
He seems to genuinely enjoy his customers, chatting up everyone and extolling the virtues of his “custom-made, six-ounce burger” while three others are busily moving about the trailer grilling, cleaning and deep-frying.
“You know, we’ve been getting a lot of Arden people coming in for burgers,” he said. “We’re actually closer for them than Sharbot Lake and they’re all saying ‘we’re glad you’re back.’”
He regrets any hard feelings from the spring meeting in Sharbot Lake about a proposed bylaw and said he’s prepared to do whatever he can to set things straight.
“Let’s have that meeting again,” he said.