BY SAMUEL PICCOLO
Before the lunch rush last Thursday, Peter Moore, the owner of the new Peter Piper’s Pubhouse, sat in his empty restaurant, looking tired. Moore had just finished interviewing a young woman, who apologized for arriving late to the job interview. “That’s all right—these things happen,” Moore said, either sincerely or with a convincing display of politeness. The table at which Moore was sitting was adjacent to the bar, where Georgia, one of Moore’s employees and the only other person in the restaurant, was busy arranging menus and glasses. Moore looked around the dining floor.
“I used to come here when it was the Regal Beagle,” he said. “I stopped when it became Bailey’s, but I still remember how the inside used to look.”
Moore, who is middle-aged and tall and friendly-looking in a fatherly sort of way, carried out extensive renovations on the room, removing the drop ceiling and replacing most of the floorboards. “We’re really trying to go for a classic pub ambience,” he said. “In the old days, they were run by the publicans who’d actually live there. I haven’t done that yet, though burning both ends of the candle does happen.”
Fifteen years ago, Moore managed a Crabby Joe’s franchise in St. Catharines. He left to work for a large floral distributor, but says that he always intended to get back in the restaurant business and have a place of his own.
“I really enjoyed working in flowers,” he said. “There was a lot of responsibility—some of the accounts were in the tens of millions of dollars. But there was a lot of travelling involved. When I was younger, it was all right. Now, I’ve got three kids, and they’re only eight, seven, and a year-and-a-half. It’s too hard to live out of a suitcase all of the time.”
As Moore spoke, the door opened to the restaurant, and George Eller, a realtor, walked in. Eller wandered over to where Moore was sitting and introduced himself.
“So you’re the owner?” he said to Moore.
“Yep,” Moore said. “I’m the Peter in Peter Piper’s. ‘Peter Moore’s’ wouldn’t sound quite as good.”
Eller laughed. “The place looks great. Do you have a menu that I could see? I think that I might be coming in soon. We’re having some friends for dinner tonight and my wife doesn’t like to cook.”
Georgia brought Eller a menu, as he and Moore continued to speak.
“I was born on a farm on Eller Road,” said Eller. “I started to work at GM when I was young, but I just didn’t like it. So I got into selling real estate and I’ve been doing that for over fifty years now.”
Moore, who grew up in Pelham, listened intently, and spoke up to ask about mutual acquaintances when a gap arose.
“I’m sorry,” said Eller, “I talk too much.”
“No, no, this is all very interesting,” Moore said. “I like talking about the history of the area.”
Eller moved on to his grandson’s hockey team. “It really makes me happy to watch him play,” he said. “When I was younger, we used to watch the Leafs every Saturday and drink beer and eat chestnuts.” The mention of hockey pushed Eller on to another subject.
“That reminds me of a story,” he said. “The car crash that killed that coffee hockey player—Tim Horton—happened just by our office by the QEW. I went out and saw the wreck after the crash, and the car was intact. I think that if he had been wearing a seatbelt, he would be alive today. Someone else said that they’d seen the car and called it a twisted wreckage, and I was mad because it wasn’t true.”
Moore chuckled. “I’m sure you have some great stories,” he said to Eller. “We’ll put you down for a booth tonight, though it’s only Thursday, so I don’t know if you’ll need the reservation.”
“Oh, all right,” said Eller. “I’ll see you tonight. Unless, of course, something comes up.” He ambled towards the door, admiring the interior as he went.
“That’s one of the things I love about having this place now,” Moore said. “All of the people that you get to meet. I’ve told some old friends that there’ll be time to actually see them again, since they can just drop by and I’ll be around.” Moore added that he hopes to build partnerships with community groups, too, including Pelham Cares.
He got up and walked past the bar and around the corner, where stairs led to the basement.
When Bailey’s was in the building, the downstairs was used only for storage. When Moore renovated the place, in preparation for opening, he had professional cleaners work over the room, which can now sit 58, in addition to the 102 that fit upstairs.
“We just had the pool table installed yesterday,” Moore said. He pointed to the centre of the room, where the table rested on a rectangular patch of linoleum in the middle of carpet. The table had just been re-upholstered, and its green fabric was smooth and unmarked.
“He still has to come back to drop off the keys for it,” said Moore. “And I guess a new cue ball, too. This one falls down the wrong hole and goes into the trap with the rest of them.”
Moore plans to add two dartboards downstairs as well.
Back up on the main floor, Georgia was busy serving the day’s first lunch table.
“One of the things that we’re excited about here is live entertainment,” said Moore, looking to a spot in the main room where musicians can play. Every Saturday from two to four, there will be live jazz, he says, and Moore intends to have other acts play throughout the week, too.
“We’ve arranged for regular dates until the end of the year,” he said. “We’re hoping that people will really like that.”
Moore acknowledged that the opening months of restaurant are difficult. “I’m here a lot now. I was in until two in the morning last night, and back in today at nine. But my wife and family have been very supportive, and after a while, the work should lighten up.”
Out in the parking lot, a delivery truck pulled in front of the restaurant’s window. Moore looked at it and smiled. “Ah,” he said. “The Guinness truck. My favourite sight.”