So, we bought a motel, and a restaurant.... are we crazy? Probably.
We’re motel girls — not restaurateurs. But, when we found our dream motel property in Sauble Beach last year, we knew it came with one tiny, slightly terrifying caveat: a 120 seat indoor-outdoor dining lounge on site. Although we never imagined ourselves in the restaurant industry because it feels even more fast paced, unpredictable and labour intensive than operating a motel, we knew we couldn’t let this vintage gem go.
So, we brought in some reinforcement to serve up all of the savoury sharing plates, reinvented classic mains and old school bevvies with a twist.
Meet the crew behind Heydays: Emma, Evan, Fred, Katie.This group of talented individuals brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, from work experience in the Greater Toronto Area as general managers, head chefs and operations gurus for well loved restaurants and bars. They’re also the geniuses behind Bobbie Sue’s Mac and Cheese in the heart of downtown Toronto. They’re the kind of people that, at the end of a long day, whether it’s been good or bad, you want to sit down and share a bottle of wine with.
We started brainstorming big things for the restaurant from the beginning, and knew that together we could create a space that was retro and bold, and that served the kind of food you dreamt about long after the meal was done. Plus, they mentioned they wanted to do frosé and an ice cream bar — we were hooked!
Poolside frosé from Heydays
The Heydays crew met over 10 years ago while working at Fishers Island Club, a summer resort along the coast of Connecticut in Long Island Sound, where they served up rum punch until the sun went down all summer long. That’s where their casual yet refined coastal cuisine dreams meet our Montauk seafood shack inspiration.
At its core, Heydays celebrates a time when things were at their best, a throwback to the good old summer days. After all, in its glory days, this retro dining lounge was the local hotspot in Sauble Beach.
Q&A WITH CHEF FRED LALIBERTE
Finally, meet the man behind the food! From Singaporean and South East Asian street food to Southern style comfort food, Fred can do it all. At Heydays, he'll be combining coastal and French influenced cuisine to bring you dishes like smoked whitefish dip and his very own Alice Waters salad, all inspired by locally sourced ingredients. Curious about what that salad even is? You'll just have to try it for yourself.
Fred Laliberte, Head Chef at Heydays restaurant
Q: What's your all time favourite item on the Heydays menu?
A: I'll always love our hot buttered lobster roll. There was a lot of discussion about whether to go hot buttered or towards the traditional New England cold lobster salad roll. Of course, it had to be hot and buttery because that's the indulgent comfort we all crave. It quickly became our signature menu item.
Q: What are you most excited about on the 2021 Heydays menu?
A: This year we’re embracing a cocktail program, which I’m really jazzed about. We’re doing the classics — think a beautiful negroni, a hard hitting old fashioned, a refreshing aperol spritz for those poolside afternoons, an old-school and citrusy planter’s punch. We’ll also have the battle of the bloody mary vs. the caesar for the brunch, which should be fun. It'd be rude not to start your meal with a cocktail, right?
Q: What's one thing you want people to know about Heydays?
A: We believe in quality first, in every step of the dining experience. From the local suppliers and farmers of our food, to the team we carefully onboard, to the custom designed plates we're using on your tables. We take pride in the quality of the experience we're creating from start to finish.
Q: Why create a spot like this in Sauble Beach?
A: Sauble is a special place. It's a tight knit, entrepreneurial community within a tourist town. There's a laid back beach attitude, but a ton of lively energy at it's core. It was just missing that special dine-in experience. Heydays feels like a secluded, higher-end spot that still fits the 'beach comfort' mould of the town.
Q: What's the one rule you live by as a chef?
A: I am in the salt, fat, acid school of cooking — if something tastes under-seasoned it usually needs one of those things.
Q: Your most used ingredient in the kitchen?
A: This year, it’s all about the herbs for that real beautiful, finishing flavour. Salt and pepper get you to a certain place, but fresh herbs take it the extra mile. For Heydays, we’re leaning hard into tarragon and dill, because they both complement that fresh seaside flavour we love. Plus, great olive oil always.
Q: What are you most likely to cook yourself at home?
A: Eggs of all kinds…overlays, soft boils, scrambled, omelette. I’m a huge Thomas Keller fan. He’s very precise, and his dishes are beautifully precious. It’s always a work of art with him, which inspires me. You can look out for some beautiful brunch options coming to Heydays this summer — think four styles of eggs Benedict!
Q: What do you look for in a great restaurant?
A: Everything. It's in the experience overall. Food doesn’t taste as good if you're not in a place that looks magical and beautiful, and feels like an escape from your regular routine. From the lively and retro atmosphere on the patio and inside, to the small talk with your server, to hearing laughter at the tables around you. The entire experience is as important as just what’s on the plate.
Q: How should a memorable dining experience play out?
A: Good company to start. Then, taking your time and enjoying the experience. Beginning with a cocktail, always. Next you’re going for oysters with a little sparkling white wine. The ideal set-up is with a group, to share a few bottles of wine and all plates! Cocktails, seafood, appetizers, main course — and taking your time throughout. You’re not too full, but definitely not hungry when you leave.
Q: How would you describe the Heydays dining experience?
A: A fun refreshing take on coastal dining experiences. It’s a comforting and craveable menu, in a playful and beautifully designed space that feels like a true vacation destination and a return to the good ol' days.
Q: Best wine on the Heydays menu?
A: The Leaning Post Pinot Noir. It has intense cherry notes with a backbone of classic Niagara minerality and a super long finish. Plus, it pairs all too well with everything on the menu from our infamous smash burger, to our favourite mac and cheese and everything in between.
Q: Frosé or Rosé?
A: Both. Frosé on the hottest summer beach days, but rosé at the beginning and end of the season.
See you at Heydays this summer, opening May 14th for takeout! Click here for the most current menu.