The homemade burgers will soon be sizzling on the grill of Candies Burger Suite, a new restaurant in Elmira.
Owner Candace Roehr decided to open a burger joint after identifying a need in town.
“I didn’t want to compete with other restaurants in the town. I wanted to do something different and offer something that you can’t get in Elmira,” said Roehr. “There are no burger joints anymore in Elmira, and I feel the town needs a place like this.”
This is the second restaurant the 25-year-old Roehr has owned, the first one was a successful all-day breakfast restaurant in Arthur.
After three years serving up meals at Candies Diner, Roehr decided to move back to her hometown to be closer to her family.
“I bought my first restaurant when I was 21 years old and worked with my aunt,” she said. “I was young, I was away from my family and I just wanted to be back with them.”
Roehr was no stranger even when getting into her first venture. She began working as a bus girl at the age of seven and by the age of eight was cooking meals for herself and her family.
“I started cooking when I was quite young out of necessity because my parents had split up and I needed to eat; I found a love for cooking because of that,” she said. “It’s in my blood, my grandfather was a cook, both my parents are great cooks, and my family is made up of food snobs – we would never serve anything that we would not eat ourselves.”
Roehr’s motto is good food fast.
All the dishes available at the burger joint are home cooked, including homemade hamburger, fresh-cut fries, fresh-battered fish and chips, homemade pulled pork and ground pork burgers and a homemade panzerotti, with soups and salads.
“I am cooking fast food, but I am using fresh ingredients so there are no preservatives in the food like MSG. What a lot of people don’t know is that food available in restaurants contains MSG, so as a restaurant you can have egg salad in the refrigerator that can last up to 60 days. The customers think they are eating something healthier by ordering the egg, but it is full of preservatives because it is not freshly made.”
Customers will be able to order burger suites, much like combos at other restaurant. Burgers will come either as specialty orders or customers can choose their own toppings.
Roehr wants everyone to feel welcome at the restaurant but looks forward to serving high school students in the fall.
“I grew up in Elmira and I know there isn’t really any place for them to go and hang out and enjoy each other’s company. A lot of people don’t want teenagers hanging out around their businesses but I want them to feel free to do that here.”
Roehr plans to set up a television and free wi-fi for her customers.
“I want people to feel comfortable and at home. This is my home and I want them to feel at ease and not rushed and feel they have to eat and run.”
Located on Arthur Street, the restaurant’s décor is designed with an eclectic style but at the same time has a few very personal touches of Roehr found throughout, from the leopard skin print on the chairs to the paint colour she created for the walls.
“I am here everyday. I wanted to make it feel like home, with my style and lots of colours. I think its fun.”
The original structure of the new restaurant was built in the 1850s and still has the original windows and fixtures throughout the little white house located on Arthur Street next to WCS.
Roehr has some big plans for the space, including using the upstairs as her future apartment.
“I just figured that I need to be close to my work. This industry is never ending: you always have stuff to do to keep things fresh, there is always a floor or wall to clean. For me, the best thing I can do is stay close,” she said. “This is my life; I know that I will be working crazy hours to get this off the ground. I always say I am married to my restaurant.”
Eventually Roehr would like to add a patio space for customers to use in the summer.
“I plan to be here for a long time.”
Roehr hopes to open this Saturday (today) or the following Monday with the grand opening planned for September when the students return to school.
“I enjoy working with the public and meeting new people, knowing who my customers are and their families which is really important to me to have a family atmosphere,” she said.
Right now the 30-seat restaurant is a family business through and through, with Roehr’s sister, Janel Beatty, working as a server and her mother and aunts lending a hand while she works in the kitchen.
“It helps me to get back in the groove of things again having my family around to help out and support. I have a few bugs to work out, I know that, so I have a few weeks before the grand opening to fix everything.”
Candies Burger Suite will be closed Sundays so Roehr can spend time with her friends and family.