Sylvia and Darren Cheverie have dreamed of opening a restaurant since they first met over nine years ago. Chartier has been the realization of that dream for the couple, and their enthusiasm for the project has spilled over into the rest of the community of Beaumont. Sylvia and Darren are the owners of the restaurant, of course, but they still have their own bosses to answer to. In fact, they have 559 of them, in the form of the community investors who helped fund the restaurant.
Rather than seeking traditional forms of investment for their restaurant, Sylvia and Darren approached the citizens of Beaumont through the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. “We both come from small towns,” Darren says, “So we understood that without community support, you can’t succeed with your business. We wanted to make sure that this restaurant would be something that people cared about and something that they would support.” Support is exactly what the couple got. Over a two-month campaign, they raised over $107,000 in donations from the community. “We owe the world to our backers, but that appreciation transfers to every customer that comes through our doors as well, so Kickstarter really matched our existing philosophy in that respect.”
Everything about Chartier, from the décor on the walls to the food on the tables, is a reflection of the community of Beaumont itself. “I reclaimed a lot of the wood in the restaurant from old farms in the area,” Darren says. “For example, the door for our dry food storage comes from a 110-year-old barn. I could probably tell you the story of every piece of wood in here. We wanted to have as much of the actual history of the town represented here as possible.”
The food itself is also locally produced as much as possible. A garden just east of town provides all of the restaurant’s fresh produce through the summer. “To me, French-Canadian cuisine is about using what’s available around you. We’re able to support our local producers and stay true to that culture.” In true French-Canadian tradition, Chartier pickles or preserves what they don’t use during the summer months and uses these preserves to influence their seasonal winter menu. “French-Canadian cuisine has a lot of deep cultural roots, but it’s also something that’s still being defined. A lot of cuisines have been explored to the point where they have a set structure. French-Canadian food is still being figured out, and it’s really cool to be a part of that experimentation.”
Not all aspects of Chartier are rooted in tradition, however. Restaurants have a history of being rough on their employees, and in this region of the world, it’s assumed that people in the service industry are simply working towards better opportunities. These are attitudes that Sylvia and Darren are trying to change. “It can be easy to fall down a path of anxiety and depression in this industry.” Darren explains. “The hours are long, the pay is low, it’s stressful work, alcohol is easy to come by and there is this longstanding tradition of a ‘suck it up and get back to work’ attitude.” This isn’t the model that Chartier follows. “People need to be fairly compensated for their work, and they need adequate time off. More than that though, they need someone to sit down with them and say ‘That was a rough night. How are you doing? Do you want to talk?’ It’s how we run our business, and I hope to see more restaurants start doing the same.”
If you want to get to know Beaumont, there is no better place to start than by having a meal at Chartier. What you’ll taste is fine French-Canadian cuisine. What you’ll feel is the spirit of the community itself. t8n
Even the name “Chartier” is a reflection of the community.
Back when the town was founded in 1895, there were three names under consideration: Beaumont, Bellevue and Chartier.
Did You Know?
Chartier’s kitchen windows open onto the street, giving passersby the opportunity to chat with the kitchen staff, and even purchase bread right from the bakers.