Comfort food served during strange times
By Hunter Cresswell During the unsure times of the COVID-19 pandemic, who couldn’t use a little comfort food? Zups, a new pick-up restaurant on Wakefield’s main drag, opened April 1 serving things like lasagna, pizza, tourtiere, duck confit, seasonal specials, and more.
“We’ve had a good month of sales, we’ve been really happy about it considering the pandemic,” said Brian Fewster, owner of Zups, as well as the Belvédère wedding venue in Edelweiss and the Wakefield Grand Hotel. Both had to shut down as a result of the pandemic. Zups executive chef Frank Jousselin is also the chef at Fewster’s other two businesses along with his sous chef Joe O’Shaughnessy. What used to be the commercial kitchen where the catered meals for the hotel and venue were prepared has, for the meantime, been taken over by Zups but it will be shared once the other businesses reopen. Before Fewster owned it, it was casse croût called Domino. Even before the pandemic kicked off, opening a restaurant is a risk, and now that risk is even more pronounced since restaurants must follow strict health and safety measures to remain open for only take-out or delivery service. Oddly, however, this has helped Zups. “[The pandemic] accelerated the plan. We’ve been talking about this for two years,” Jousselin said. Since Fewster’s other businesses are closed, he’s had more time to focus on their pick-up restaurant idea. “We always wanted this particular type of [touchless purchasing] system,” Fewster said. “We were kind of concerned about how to do that without annoying people and now it’s just the way it is.” When asked where the name of the business came from, Fewster smiled and said, “Oh, you mean, ‘What Zup with it?’” He then explained that it was a name he heard on television that’s fun and also skirts Quebec’s strict language laws. Fewster said he hopes to add things like burgers and tacos to the menu by June which will be served out of the new addition built to the original kitchen. There were two weeks’ worth of construction left to complete the project but it was put on hold because of the construction stoppage. Seasonal items and special meals will be added to the menu on a rotating basis. This month it’s Mother’s Day so Zups is offering a special Italian four-person feast of focaccia, meatballs, cannelloni, bomboloni, and more for $110. Order by May 6 to pick up on May 8. Customers can order food hot or frozen to be heated up in the oven through the business website, zups.ca, or their Zups app. “They can sit out there and order, and we can have it out to them in five minutes,” Jousselin said about frozen food orders while pointing at the parking lot. Hot and ready-to-eat orders should be ordered two hours in advance. “This isn’t fast food. The lasagnas take two hours to cook,” Jousselin said. “All the food is cooked in-house and from scratch.” There’s a number that customers can text, posted in large print on the pick-up window that’s readable from the parking lot, to let staff know that they’re there and ready for their order.
The restaurant is located at 922 Riverside Dr. in Wakefield. Pick-up hours for frozen food are Monday to Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and the hot food pick-up hours are Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Ordering is only available through the zups.ca website or app.