Rent hike forces beloved Smiths Falls eatery Roosteraunt to close for good

By Deborah Reiter

Over 17 years, Roosteraunt underwent a name change, two location changes and had seemingly weathered a pandemic, yet nothing prepared owner Kieth Drummond for a worrisome phone call from his new landlord late last year.

Drummond's three-year lease on Roosteraunt was coming up for renewal on April 30, 2021, which would require him to pay a considerable amount more in rent if the restaurant were to continue to operate at 60 Lombard St., in Smiths Falls.

Drummond, 72, shares with CityNews, that he was given the option by his landlord to move his business into a recently vacated Chinese restaurant at a nearby strip mall.

“[But that] would require a considerable amount of money for new construction to accommodate Roosteraunt's operations,” Drummond said.

He and his wife simply didn’t want to take another risk at their age, plus, it was the kind of investment the Drummond family says they really couldn't afford after sustaining losses from pandemic lockdowns and the construction of a neighbouring Kentucky Fried Chicken that blocked traffic from easy access to Roosteraunt for drive-thru pick-up over the past year.

When CityNews asked about how Roosterant acquired its name Drummond lovingly replied, “we were the only ones open at the crack of dawn,” at his first restaurant attached to a gas station located across the street from 60 Lombard St. 

Drummond began reminiscing about the first rooster knick-knack the restaurant received as a gift at their first location. Drummond and his wife had initially bought the restaurant under a different name. 

The restaurateur describes how their “eggs benedict and hungry man omelettes must have been really good because their clients kept coming back with roosters as gifts. We now have over four hundred rooster gifts.”

Drummond says his two daughters and one son were their first employees. The Drummonds have since employed their eight growing grandchildren to help on weekends and during summer vacations.

The owner recalls with pride how the breakfast menu eventually expanded into a lunch menu then onto a dinner menu, with its own signature homemade dishes.

It's a 17-year tradition and daily ritual to which Kieth Drummond hopes to keep moving forward with in some capacity, but the Roosteraunt owner is attempting to figure out the how and why of it all at the moment.

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