Dubeau Grocery’s 40th anniversary

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Épicerie Dubeau Grocery celebrates 40 years with beer bash

Peter L. Smith

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Owner Brian Dubeau, family members and staff of Épicerie Dubeau Grocery hosted a party in the backyard of the store, May 4, to celebrate the business’ 40th anniversary and thank customers for 40 years of support. Live entertainment, free beer samples, and coupons for lunch at the neighbouring Trimmers 2.0 chip truck were all part of the fun.

A highlight of the afternoon was the official launch of the store’s signature beer, Dubeau’s Island Hopper Lager. Its name was chosen through a contest last winter, with three people splitting the $1,000 cash prize and free beer for coming up with the same name: Colin Freemark, Rob Cotnam and Carey Dedo. Over 700 ballots were submitted.

Among the attendees were Jane Toller, MRC Pontiac Warden; Stephane Labine, Caisse des Rivières de Pontiac director general; and Alex Fortin, Labatt regional manager.

This October marks 25 years that Dubeau has owned the business; he took it over from his parents Alcide and Doreen Dubeau who bought the property from the Municipality of Allumette Island East in December 1983. The business became fully operational in early 1984. The late Denis Drapeau from L’Isle-aux-Allumettes built the establishment. “My brother Bobby and I helped with the construction after school,” noted Dubeau.

Dubeau spoke of how the beer industry has changed over the years, such as the shift from bottles to cans, how the Ontario beer strike in 1985 really boosted the business (a 24 pack of beer back then was $14.25!), and how craft beers are becoming increasingly popular. “Years ago, there were only three beer companies – Molson, Labatt and O’Keefe – whereas today there are so many others. Old Milwakee was the first beer available in cans at an affordable price for consumers,” said Dubeau.

The business, which boasts a drive-thru beer service, has a large warehouse space so they’re able to stock a lot of product. “If there is a big event happening, we’re able to order extra to accommodate,” explained Dubeau, noting the business employs as many as 25 people during the summer, hailing from both sides of the river.

Over the years, Dubeau’s has grown into a routine stopping place for customers, especially cottagers, to stock up on groceries, beer and other essentials. “I recognize many familiar faces every year,” noted Dubeau, who encouraged customers to be on the lookout for their signature beer to be available in their coolers soon.

“We look forward to continuing to support the local community for many more years,” he concluded, noting he would be “thrilled” if his daughter Hannah and/or his son Caleb choose to take over the business in the future.

Photo  – The Dubeau family and staff celebrate the grocer’s 40th anniversary. (PS)