By Chris Marchand
It’s a challenge Mystic Grill restauranteurs Bri and James Smith have grappled with before with their establishments in rural, or semi-rural settings: patrons are rightfully concerned about getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
While that’s not at all a bad thing, the Eagles Landing-based eatery launched a novel approach to offering patrons the freedom and peace of mind of a safe and sober driver for their evening out — they’ll pick you up and drive you home.
“It comes from working at a lot of different establishments with a liquor license, you see people leave because they can’t have another drink,” said James Smith. “If people could come in and be able to relax a little more and enjoy coming out — instead of one person being able to have a drink while the other can’t.”
Wheeling into uncharted territory such as this may prove challenging if the Smiths hope to establish a fee for the shuttle in which case they’ll have to carefully navigate city bylaws governing local taxi services. At the moment the service is free though tips are welcome.
“We’ll be going to the city to try to figure out a way we could have a charge,” said Bri Smith. “We want the charge to be minimal — just to cover gas, maintenance and insurance. We don’t want to be a cab service, so we have to figure out where we are in that. It’s not to make money, it’s for the community to help get out here and enjoy themselves.”
The Smiths say taxi rides can represent a pricey deterrent to patrons to venturing out to Sandy Beach Rd. Current city taxi rates begin with a base rate of $4.60 (first 100 metres) and an incremental rate of 23 cents per 100 metres.
“What we see is that people don’t call cabs anymore,” said Bri. “It takes 45 minutes to even get one and if you’re coming here from North Dryden it can be around 20 dollars one way.”
Made possible by a host of community sponsors, the shuttle presents a variety of interesting prospects say the Smiths as they move into golf season, consider the idea of offering daytime meal outings for seniors at Patricia Gardens, not to mention the impending legalization of marijuana in July and the concerns that might pose around impaired driving.
The Smiths ran a contest on the Facebook Page to name the van, opting to go with The Mystic Machine and planning to decorate the Dodge Caravan with an elaborate graphics wrap from RMC Graphix.
Book a ride to the Mystic Grill in the Mystic Machine by calling 223-8885 or 323-2299.