Live from the islands: from the heart to the belly
At age six, Pier-Philippe Poirier made a pact with his grandfather Gérard. Promised sworn.
He had just overheard a conversation between his mother and his grandmother. Gerard was seriously thinking of selling the dairy bar he had built on his land, opposite the Quai de l’Étang-du-Nord. “I went to see my grandfather, he mowed the grass. I made a deal with him, he should not sell the dairy and wait until I’m old enough to take care of it. “
The pact still holds.
I met them on a Saturday afternoon at the Crèmerie du Port, one of the rare times when the two were not working, except for Gérard’s phone that rang, the Department of Transportation needed him the next day. At 77, the man is on his excavator Monday to Friday 10 hours a day.
And after, he will help the dairy.
The same goes for Pier-Philippe, 22, who works full time on the radio station of the Islands, CFIM, and who goes to the creamery after, from 18h to 23h.
Gérard remembers when he “left” his dairy in 1989, there was only one on the archipelago. “It’s an idea that I had like that, I did not know that pantout. I remember the first Sunday that it opened, it was crowded, the machine was getting air … The heart wanted to stop! ”
The heart held firm, the machine too.
Gérard’s son, François, put his hand on the cornets, and then his son, naturally. Pier-Philippe grew up with the dairy bar, on his cover photo on Facebook, we see him sitting on the counter beside the cash register, he is not two years old. “I was born in the creamery … It’s always been part of my life.”
He started washing dishes. “I watched how it works, I learned like that. I had my first shift at age 12, and I was hired at 14. ”
Today, it is Gerard who washed the dishes.
Pier-Philippe has taken over the years, it is he who deals with employees, management. He always has new ideas, a little too much to Gérard’s taste. “I have to hold him back …” His grandson is doing well. “I am youth and he is wisdom. That’s why we make a good team. ”
Pier-Philippe is at home at the creamery, he takes me around, explains how it works. “I do not feel like I’m working here. What we do is not just serving ice cream, it’s bringing life to people. Coming to the creamery is always something special, it’s a grandmother who comes to spend time with her grandchildren, there is always an opportunity. ”
A cornet, it goes from the heart to the belly.
The dairy too. “I’m lucky to come into something that has been done with love, we have a lot of fun!”
Every idea has to go to the family council, Pier-Philippe’s mother, Anne, works full time day at the dairy, her grandmother Marie-Carmelle takes care of the accounts, her father François, he is the surety morality. “He works seven days a week [on his bulldozer] in the summer, we do not see him very much. But he has a say on every idea, he has an outside look. And he’s often right. ”
The board must agree. “It’s a collective work.”
This is one of the secrets of the success of the dairy bar – with Belgian chocolate concocted by Gérard – which also escapes the shortage of staff that hits the Islands, especially this summer. CVs, they have more than enough, they received 38 last summer. Gerard is for something. “In the evening, I go to see them and I say thank you. If you want your business to work, organize yourself to look after your employees. ”
They are part of the family.
It was also with the family that they had the idea of setting up a park right next to the creamery, on the ground that everyone else already called “the park in Wilfrid”, the father of Gerard. It was a wasteland where the kids were going to run, where they were going to play softball! ”
The family recovered some of the games that were in a school that closed, they asked a guy who knew that, Bernard Vigneau, to give them a hand. “He drew the park with us, he helped us make things.”
This summer, they added an inflatable slide.
And no need to buy a horn to go play. “It’s really a park for kids, so they can have fun, so that’s part of their memories.”
Thirty years later, Gérard is happy. “Without Pier-Philippe, I would have sold for a long time. And in not long, it’s going to be his … When I’m going to be even older, I’ll be able to come here and tell myself that what I’ve done is no worse. ”
The pact will have been kept.