Scott and Sophie Walcott’s County story starts long before their latest endeavour – the purchase of the well known Picton Harbour Inn and Lighthouse Restaurant. Scott’s family lived in East Africa for 13 years before making the move to Prince Edward County. He went to high school here, worked his summers at a local campground and aspired to a career in the medical field, like his mom. He was at university in the United States working toward that goal when he met Sophie who planned to be a teacher. But life has a way of changing our best laid plans.
Out of the blue, Scott got a call from his old boss at West Lake Willows, wanting to set up a meeting to ask him a question. At the meeting, the man pulled out a manila envelope containing an offer for Scott and Sophie to manage the campground. Scott politely refused, explaining they had other plans. The owner produced a second envelope, this time with an offer to buy-out. Scott was speechless but managed to joke “I have a 1984 Jetta, are we going to trade?!” The drive home was exciting. They crunched numbers and found a way to make it happen. Scott says, “The driving force was family. We knew we would get married and have children. This was a way to share a special bond with them and with the wider family, too.” He knew the business and saw West Lake Willows as a safe investment.
He was right. In ten years they have quadrupled annual revenue, started a new related business Bay of Quinte Charters, and purchased the venerable Picton Harbour Inn and the Lighthouse Restaurant, (consistently voted readers choice for best breakfast in Picton). Sophia had grown up in the hospitality industry. Her family owned a restaurant, because, “We’re Greek. It’s just what you do!” She had sworn she’d never own one of her own, but life in the County changed her perspective. Now she loves it.
It’s a busy life and Scott and Sophie involve their children Andrew (11), George (10) and Elaina (7) in business activities whenever possible. They recognize the importance of tourism to their future in the County. “It’s important that people who live here recognize that what attracted them, or keeps them here, is the same thing that brings tourists, and it should be embraced.” Sophie is philosophical about the fluctuations that come with a seasonal business. “Yes, the busy tourist season can cause inconvenience for us locals, but when you understand the big part it plays in our economy you know if tourism goes away so do a lot of small businesses.”
It can be a hard business, but their mantra “How can we, as a local business owner, make your life better?” will surely keep them viable and successful, along with their entrepreneurial spirit. They recently partnered with County Limos on a venture they call, “He Fishes, She Wines” that incorporates local winery attractions and their own fishing charter business. They plan to modernize the Harbour Inn while maintaining it’s affordability and charm and hold the same standards for the Lighthouse Restaurant: keep the charm, the atmosphere and the prices while updating and improving the overall business.
Scott fosters strong links between their businesses. For instance www.quintefishingcharters.com is their new site that allows anglers to book a charter and a place to stay all at once, something they saw missing in the marketplace.
The choice the Walcotts made 10 years ago has worked for them. They have a passion for their work, for their freedom and for the family life they’re building in Prince Edward County. Drop in to see them at one of their locations, or check out their websites.
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.