Parlez-vous français? That would be a oui at Timothy’s Café on Fridays

Tyler Gallant stands opposite the cash register with his selection of seafood. He offers non-menu items like oysters, croissants, seafood chowder, and lobster quiche. Daniel Brown photo.
Cutline 1: French-speaking customers enjoy music and socialize at Francophone Friday. Live music hasn’t always been offered, but as the event grows, more is being done to get weekly musicians. Daniel Brown photo.

By Daniel Brown

Jan. 13, 2017

Campbell Webster wanted to create a hangout for the French-speaking community.

His coffee shop business is about social gathering, so the owner of Timothy’s Café started an event called Francophone Friday in November. It takes place weekly from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

About 200 customers were expected for the Francophone Friday on Jan. 13, including students from École François-Buote.

Webster was partially raised in Guatemala and he’s used to Canadians starting a Canada Club when in other countries.

While the French-themed music and food is a highlight, Webster knows the focus is on community.

“Really the entertainment will be each other.”

The food is still important, however, so Webster called in a local business to help with catering.

Tyler Gallant started Gallant’s Shellfish & Seafood less than a year ago. He has a booth at the Charlottetown Farmers Market, and a seasonal oyster bar on the waterfront.

Webster is a loyal patron of Gallant’s business. He loves Gallant’s menu, especially the oysters.

“He always orders a dozen before we even open,” Gallant said.

Webster wanted to find a way to work with Gallant and offer his menu at Timothy’s. Once winter came and the seasonal work decreased, Gallant started setting up at the cafe every Friday.

That evolved into Francophone Friday, and has been great for Gallant’s business. Many Timothy’s regulars who weren’t aware of the event are able to discover his local product, and the French community think it’s a hit, Gallant said.

“This one has totally evolved… I just kind of tagged along for the ride.”

Jan. 13 was the first time Timothy’s has had table reservations, Webster said.

The success has opened doors to other possibilities, with Webster considering events like Montreal Monday or Spanish Saturday.

These events will continue as long as the community wants it, he said.

“It is a bilingual country.”

As for the future, there is no clear end for Francophone Friday, Webster said.

“[Francophone Friday] ends when all French people on Earth die.”