Hursty’s History

The Main Street journey continues.

I’ve wondered about the mysterious curve in the road. I learned that 41 years ago the Head Librarian was declared the Shawville Centennial Baby. What can be next?

“Hungry Or Thirsty Get It All At Hursty’s,” says owner Julie Dubeau of the restaurant’s slogan.

How about some food talk?

Hursty’s Bar and Grill is next door to the Shawville/Clarendon Library. It’s mid-afternoon when I end up dropping in. It’s not quite lunch and still a bit of time until some people start to think about supper.

It was the perfect the opportunity to talk with Julie.

First though, let’s for just a moment go back in time. The spot in town carries a bit of history. It goes all the way back to September 12, 1888 – at least according to the Archives.

A Mr. Chris Caldwell built a hotel called the Pontiac House, which on that day was open to the public and also included excellent stables. The hotel offered a private coach which connected to the Pontiac Pacific Junction.

The building was burnt down in 1924 and re-built in 1925. The year ‘1925’ would remain etched above the front entrance, until a final fire brought the end in January, 1982.

Darleen Murphy (Murray) was one of the last owners. She joined forces with her brother Bryan and his wife Geri, to buy the building in 1979.

“We renovated the whole thing. It was a lot of work. It was a big job,” says Darleen. “The nice big entranceway was refurnished. The room to the side there was a nice tin ceiling. There were three floors, the main floor and then two for the rooms to rent out. There was a dining room and a kitchen and restaurant in the back, where we did breakfast and lunch. We did pizza. We hosted weddings. We did everything.”

Darleen notes, off of the back room, used to be a Tavern where only men were allowed to go to drink. Unfortunately, that structure caught fire but the rest of the building was saved and the money went towards completing a bar downstairs.

“It had a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, those were the times.” she says with a laugh. “It was a great place.”

The next building constructed became a bar. The location eventually became vacated though for six months, when finally Julie Dubeau and her friend, Al Kuehl came into the picture.

“I’ve always wanted to run a restaurant,” Julie says, as we took a seat at one of the tables. “Al and I decided to be partners, you know 50/50. He would run the bar side and I would do the restaurant.”

The doors to Hursty’s Bar and Grill opened on October 1, 1996.

“It was exciting,” she remembers. “Everyone wanted to come and try.”

“I think, wow. 17 years and it’s gone by really quick. I learned a lot and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Julie laughs. “I believe our success, comes in large part because of the great staff. They are dependable, aim to please and treat and chat with the customers like family.”

Hursty’s is open every day from 7am to 9pm. Except for Sundays, when they open at 8. One of the biggest changes over the years is the bar no longer runs at extended hours. Everything closes at 9.

There have been different foods on the menus through the years. Julie decides what to feature on them. Today, it is the wraps and quesadillas which have been hugely popular and items she would recommend. Breakfast and lunch tend to be their busier meals. Yet, it was mentioned people’s taste may change by next week

“The club sandwiches and Caesar salads are popular,” she says “The Shawville chips are very good and the chicken wings. My Mom makes the homemade pies and you can’t go wrong with a piece of butterscotch pie.”

The pieces of pie have become well-known. Apparently cottagers from Ottawa have taken them back to the city.

While people go to Hursty’s for food and a drink, maybe Julie found a little bit more here. She and Al are married and they now have two kids.

I go to leave and Julie heads out onto the patio to serve a couple. I notice a photograph of the Pontiac House near the front door.

History has not disappeared.

Are you feeling ‘Hungry of Thirsty’ yet?

By: Scott Campbell