Veteran city chefs launch new poutine shop

Poutine Hut owner Steve (Theo) Economou shows off an order of Huron poutine with Krista Kelly, left, and Courtney St. Pierre. Glenn Ogilvie

Cathy Dobson

Steve (Theo) Economou thought he was retiring when he left the restaurant business after 44 years.

But he just couldn’t stay away.

“I got to thinking about a fast food place that wouldn’t be such long hours,” he said. “Fast food is a smaller operation than what I’ve done in the past.

“I guess now I’m semi-retired.”

He considered various fast food ideas and dismissed a franchise concept in favour of his own, independent one.

He and son Peter Economou tested out a few burger joints and poutine restaurants and decided they could create a better burger and superior poutine. The Poutine Hut on Murphy Road was born.

“Living in Sarnia, we know the main thing people enjoy here is meat and potatoes,” said Peter. “With the economy struggling, a sit-down, full-service restaurant doesn’t generate as much revenue because the overhead is so high.

“We thought, really high quality poutine and burgers is the meat and potatoes of fast food. Besides, Sarnians love their fries, so why not take that and put our spin on it.”

Poutine Hut opened in February and now employs six people, with Peter Economou running the kitchen.

The menu was created entirely by the father and son team in Sysco’s kitchens in Woodstock.

“It took a lot of trial and error to decide what works the best,” said Peter, 36.

“I grew up in the business. I was raised in a restaurant and was cooking by the age of 15. I know what tastes good.”

The Economous are using real Montreal cheese curds to create a more traditional poutine. Virtually everything on the menu is made from scratch including the beef burgers, fresh cut fries and poutine sauce.

The restaurant has seating for 14 but most people like takeout. In the first weeks of business, students have discovered Poutine Hut.

“There were 25 high school students lined up outside today when I opened my doors,” said Peter.

Popular menu items include Lambton Poutine for $9.99, a hefty serving of fries covered in cheese curds, gravy, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and garlic aioli.

Five varieties of gourmet poutine range in size from regular to jumbo to OMG.

Gourmet burgers are priced from $7.99 to $9.99 each. For instance, the Poutine Hut’s Signature Burger piled high with fries, cheese curds, beef gravy and buttermilk ranch sells for $8.99.

Poutine Hut has build-your-own options and also offers gourmet dogs, sandwiches, sausages and kids’ meals.  Seniors and students get a 10% discount.

A catering menu will soon be available and the Economous intend to market their food for midnight wedding bars.

“If all goes well, our five-year plan is to open two or three more Poutine Huts in the Sarnia area,” said Peter.

Poutine Hut is located at 580 Murphy Road and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Got an interesting business story?  Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.