When the Bernard’s opened in downtown Ottawa on March 8, 2015, the local food truck scene was in the midst of a boom.
It was a sign that Ottawa was about to see the next big thing, as the city’s dining scene was finally gaining momentum.
The new venue opened up the entire downtown area to a much wider variety of food trucks and restaurants, as well as the burgeoning downtown restaurant scene, which had begun to emerge during the peak of the food truck boom in the early to mid-2000s.
But the Bernads also made Ottawa a more appealing place to shop.
“I always knew I wanted to be a food truck owner,” says Bernard-Paul, who is originally from Quebec, and owns the business with his brother Paul.
“We wanted to open our own restaurant, but we never knew if we would have the same success.”
The idea was to provide a small family-friendly restaurant with a high-end interior and great food, so they were looking for an owner who would bring a unique brand of casual, rustic dining experience to Ottawa.
“The concept of a food trucks in Ottawa was not that we were trying to get in the food business, we were just trying to put together a place where we could make our money,” says Paul Bernard.
The brothers say they have learned a lot about Ottawa’s food scene and their growing client base, but they were still not sure what the city would be like when they opened their first shop in 2016.
The first Bernards in the city came in January 2017, when the restaurant’s first customers were from Quebec.
“It was pretty amazing, I’ve never seen people come in here so happy,” Bernard says.
“They were all from Quebec or Ontario and they all loved the place.
I think the reason why they came here is because they were really excited to have a place that was a little more casual.”
With the help of the Bernds, the brothers opened the second restaurant in January 2018.
That location also offered the chance to open a third location within the city, with an opening date yet to be determined.
Now, they’re just waiting for their first customers to show up to open their third location, and for them to get their feet wet.
The two brothers plan to keep growing their menu, expanding their selection of specialty items, and expanding their dining experience.
And it’s all thanks to the Berndads.
“Their commitment to making sure we got the right people,” says Ben Bernard, “and getting the right prices, has really helped us out.”
The Bernards started as a local family-run business in 2014, after they were contacted by a couple of local restaurateurs who wanted to start up a new restaurant in Ottawa.
Paul Bernardo had been a food service worker in Toronto and was looking for a way to make a living.
The Bernard brothers, with their backgrounds in culinary and marketing, thought that this would be a great way to bring their culinary skills to the table.
“If we had done this for a living, we would not have been able to do this,” Bernardo says.
So they worked with a local marketing firm to create a website and pitch the concept.
That website, Bernard Restaurant, has since evolved into a popular social media platform for local businesses.
In early 2018, the two brothers launched a website called the Berns’ Food.
The site offers a menu of their food truck menu, which can be found on the Berned’s website.
“Our customers have really come to us and really wanted to come,” Bernhard says.
The team also works to spread the word through social media.
“When people see a Bernard on social media, they want to know what’s the Bernardo’s offering,” he says.
And the Berndes have also developed a unique way of connecting with their loyal customers.
They post recipes and reviews of their delicious food, on their Facebook page and Twitter page.
The popularity of their Facebook group and Twitter account has seen more than 4,000 new members, and the Bernes have a growing number of new customers who want to be part of the team.
“What we’ve found is that we have an incredible loyal customer base, and that they like us because we’re not just selling food,” Bernardi says.
Bernard Restaurants has had more than 25 customers show up at their second location.
“One person came in from London and she loved the food, she loves the ambience, she’s from England and she wanted to visit,” Bernards’ chef, Andrew Bernardo, says.
He and his wife, Amanda, are also happy with the success of the new location, even though they’ve been opening their first two locations for a little over a year now.
“This has been a long road, and it’s been a really fun ride,” Bernier says. But