The Lookout is located in what was formerly one of Prince Edward Island’s best-known restaurants, the iconic ‘Platter House’.
The Platter House began in 1978 in the Fina gas station that was located directly across the road from The Lookout. In those earliest days, eight people were employed. The small restaurant created what is believed to have been the first clam, sole, scallop, and seafood platters that formed the foundation of the Platter House’s remarkable popularity over more than two decades. The takeout/eat-in eatery was open until 2 a.m. on weekends, with long lineups of customers extending throughout the parking lot after Souris and area dances. On many occasions, closing time was extended to feed the band “Copperfield” who would arrive following their gigs.
Cyril Gallant, the Platter House founder, supplied the fresh clams from his home-based processing facility. In 1981 he constructed a more state-of-the-art clam shucking and processing plant, at the current location on the Souris River. Two years later, the plant was expanded to process fresh flounder, sole, cod filets, and herring roe. The production and export of fresh fillets and clams was innovative at the time because before this, P.E.I. processors exported fish in frozen packs to markets. This innovation provided the Platter House with daily, fresh caught clams and fish fillets. In 1986, the second floor of the processing facility was built to accommodate the new, expanded 140-seat Platter House, the main frame of what forms The Lookout today. The establishment then operated with a liquor licence and full eat-in and take-out service.
Guests came from across the island, leading a charge of visitors from elsewhere in Canada and abroad.
At its peak, the operation employed more than 70 people in the processing facility and approximately 40 in the restaurant.
In 1990, the business was purchased by Gerry and Sherri Gallant. They nurtured the excellent reputation of the establishment, hired the treasured core staff, and remained true to the popular menu, while expanding the restaurant space to 165 seats. Gerry and Sherri were proud to be a part of the local business community with so many dedicated employees and loyal customers.
An annual special event at the Platter House involved high school students working in the kitchen and serving guests during the annual high school fundraiser day, with all sales donated to the High School Student Council.
After the fish processing equipment was removed, the ground floor space was renovated to accommodate a new enterprise called “The Sandbar Lounge”, a name resulting from a local contest. This 120-seat bar/lounge was a very popular social gathering venue for locals and visitors, with live music and dinner theatre staged every weekend. As a teenager, J.J. Chaisson performed as part of the dinner theatre ensemble. The Sandbar sponsored local sports teams and was a popular gathering place for the community. Sherri Gallant also operated “Seaside Crafts”, a craft and gift shop in the front part of the former processing plant.
In 2020, after being vacant for several years, J.J. and Julie Chaisson purchased the property, with a quote from J.J. summing it all up: “The Platter House holds fond memories for many Islanders and visitors. We want the community to be a part of its renewal and to draw people to the eastern end of the Island because we believe it’s a special spot. The Platter House was special and meaningful to a lot of people. We are pumped to rejuvenate it and keep it looking good for another 40 or 50 years.”