by Stella Shepard
In 2021, Jeffrey Haight and Marco Leboeuf launched The Boys Comfort Cuisine Inc., a home-based business in Vernon Bridge.
The business opened to fill a niche in the market, because of a demand for home-cooked meals during COVID-19.
Jeffrey worked in the food and beverage industry for 37 years and is a Red Seal Chef. Marco was previously employed in the healthcare field. They moved from Montreal to PEI in 2010.
“We wanted a simpler, quieter life than living and working in Montreal,” says Jeffrey, formerly of PEI.
Due to a recent hearing loss, Jeffrey could no longer tolerate employment in a noisy environment. He had to find a quiet space to work. “The quiet space was our garage,” Jeffrey says. “Marco and I flipped it into a certified kitchen.”
Marco, born and raised in northern Quebec, recently exited the healthcare field to become an entrepreneur.
“When COVID-19 hit, I heard about restaurants in Montreal that were closing, which was heartbreaking,” says Jeffrey. “I wondered how the food industry would have to change.
“People who want to eat out might not be comfortable going to a restaurant. So, Marco and I decided to prepare restaurant-quality food with high-end ingredients for a reasonable price.
“Some families buy our home-cooked meals for an entire week. Others order 30 or 40 meals for their loved ones to put in the freezer. And people from Calgary are buying meals for their Island families. A diverse clientele is growing mostly through word-of-mouth.
“We keep the prices low because we buy directly from local producers rather than from larger chain stores.”
Through friends, Jeffrey and Marco heard about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague.
CBDC East assists in creating small businesses and in expanding and modernizing existing businesses by providing financial and technical services to entrepreneurs. Services target entrepreneurs who require customized financing not ordinarily available from traditional sources.
They met with Martina MacDonald, Executive Director of CBDC East, and Helen Antle, Business Development Officer. They were eligible for a loan to assist with starting their business.
“CBDC East was very helpful with providing business-related information and made suggestions to improve our business plan,” says Marco. “We also enrolled in business courses offered through CBDC East, which were helpful.”
Jeffrey and Marco offer the following advice for anyone considering starting a business, based on their own entrepreneurial journey.
- Educate yourself through researching, asking questions and networking.
- Family support is important to be successfully self-employed.
- Hire an accountant who can provide information about grants and rebates that are available.
- Give back to the communities that support you.
- Support local by buying locally.
- Have a good business plan.
“We take customer service seriously, which is very important in the food service industry,” says Jeffrey. “We treat our clients like friends.”
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) call 902-838-4030.