The cat’s long-awaited return has Yarmouth businesses purring

Workers at Heritage Brewing Company in Yarmouth are used to recognizing customers and remembering their orders. But, thanks to The Cat, that changed recently.

When the Yarmouth-Maine ferry service resumed after four years on May 19, it brought more money and new faces to local businesses.

“For the first time, we don’t know these people,” said Gabrielle Hurlburt, managing director of Heritage Brewing.

“We see people from all over. We’ve had people from Australia and Germany and… a lot of people from Maine.”

Gabrielle Hurlburt is the Managing Director of Heritage Brewing Co. (Robert Guertin/Radio Canada)

It’s often families on vacation, she says, and summer vacation hasn’t even started for schoolchildren.

The ferry did not sail in 2019 because the Bar Harbor, Maine terminal was undergoing renovations. The past two years have been lost due to pandemic restrictions.

The cat approaches Yarmouth. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

The ferry can hold 866 passengers and 200 cars.

Hurlburt said many local businesses displayed signs expressing their joy at seeing tourists and having full business hours.

“I really think it had a major effect on everyone,” she said. “I’m a little nervous… If it’s already like this and we haven’t even reached our peak hours, I can’t wait to be there.”

The ferry began its full summer schedule on June 23. Susanne Giebels, who runs two local hotels, expects to have plenty of bookings.

“I feel like we’re already in the high season,” Giebels said.

Susanne Giebels is ready to welcome guests from all over the world. (Radio Canada)

“July, August, September looks so promising. Lots of walk-in guests. They decide at the last minute what boat they’ll be staying at,” Giebels said.

She said weekends at Lakelawn B&B Motel and NovaStar Motel On The Lake are already 70% booked July through October for family reunions, birthdays and other events.

This started happening a week after the ferry left.

“I wake up in the morning and already see reservations at seven in the morning that were made at five in the evening,” she said.

Now she sees American and domestic guests arriving for the night, touring the city, and then getting back on the ferry.

Hannah Rhyno-Milot, who co-owns Gaia Global Kitchen in Yarmouth with her husband, said the ferry has resulted in a 50% increase in customers on days he is in town.

To prepare for the coming months, the restaurant has added a breakfast menu, opened its terrace and extended its opening hours. New staff members are added.

“Everyone is excited about it. It’s what we’ve been waiting for for two years,” Rhyno-Milot said.

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