The Blunt Bartender
A laid-back pub and eatery with a splash of sass.
563 Prince Street
Truro, Nova Scotia
“So, I’m very blunt,” Marie McDow says with a smile when talking about her restaurant, The Blunt Bartender at 563 Prince Street in Truro. “I say it like it is, any of my friends can tell you, I’ve been like that my whole life.”
The Blunt Bartender has a lot more to offer than just the playfully sassy attitude from the servers and staff. After spending the majority of her career in the restaurant industry, Marie decided to open her own pub and eatery downtown Truro, which will celebrate its second anniversary on July 22. The menu leans heavily toward delicious comfort food dishes, there are plenty of great beers on tap, live music on select evenings, and a summer patio that all work together to create a fun, relaxed environment to enjoy time with friends or family.
“People work hard for their money, and when they come here for a date night, or a night out, it’s really important to me that they’re enjoying themselves, and they feel like they’re getting the value from a great atmosphere and great food,” Marie explains. “I want our customers to know that we appreciate them. We really, truly appreciate every person that comes in here.”
If you’ve never had the opportunity to use the bathrooms at The Blunt Bartender, check them out immediately. The waiting area has a 360 painting of the interior of a restaurant with a bar, dancefloor and live band. Inspired by graffiti art Marie admired in Nashville, Tennesse, the mural really adds to the atmosphere of the restaurant.
“I wanted to make a place where everyone can do selfies,” says Marie. “You can actually stand in there and make it look like you’re a part of the bar scene in the painting. The artists who painted it for us were these amazing young girls who did a fabulous job, people love it.”
Marie designed the interior of The Blunt Bartender herself. From incorporating the beautiful stone fireplace that was there when they moved in, to the bright orange chairs and the windows that pop out to create a sense of continuity between the patio and the interior in the summer, she carefully planned out every detail.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this,” Marie says with a smile. “We had no idea what it was going to cost; honestly I probably wouldn’t have moved ahead with it if I knew at the time, but I’m so glad we did it and that we did it right. When we rented the place, I thought we could just do some fresh paint, throw up some signs, and put some beer in the fridge. It didn’t quite go like that,” she laughs. “Every time I turned around I saw something else I wanted done. I had to do it right.”
“When she said we were going to paint it purple, I said, ‘we’re not painting it purple’,” says Marie’s husband Dave. “So anyway, a week later I was in here painting it purple!”
Although Marie and Dave joke about their decorating discussions, the hard work they’ve put in really shines. The Blunt Bartender is immaculately clean and well-maintained, which Marie says is a part of her long-term strategy for success.
“Being in the restaurant industry for years, I’ve seen some businesses just let things go until they suddenly realize they have 40 or 50 thousand dollars of repairs to do,” she explains. “We keep on top of things weekly, whether it’s just touching up the paint or fixing anything that needs maintenance. Sometimes I think my staff get annoyed with me being here because I have such a high standard for cleanliness. I’m sure they’re thinking, ‘stop making us clean everything and get out!'”
When The Blunt Bartender first opened and Marie tried out a few sassy comebacks with her customers, she was worried they might not take them as intended. “I thought, ‘they’re probably not coming back!’,” she says with a smile. But since then, customers have come to look forward to the quick-witted banner they enjoy with the staff in the pub.
“I never say anything to hurt people’s feelings, but I’m honest,” Marie says. “I remember when I was about 20 years old, I had just had a baby, and I went to the store to buy some clothes. I went into this hop store and I put a shirt on that I thought looked nice, but this young girl, maybe 17 years old, came over and said, ‘oh my god, take that off, it does NOTHING for you’.”
“I was blown away initially, but then I thought, I love her!” Marie says. “I love her because I thought it looked nice, but she really told me straight up that it was awful. It was shocking, but I loved her honesty, I wish there were more people like her. So I sort of ended up becoming like her!”
Marie is originally from Cole Harbour, and moved to Truro 7 years ago to be with her husband, Dave. “I absolutely love the coziness of Truro, and you know everyone who comes in here. People are just really great customers, they love our staff, and it’s a fun place to be.”
When choosing suppliers for the bar, Marie draws on the years of experience she’s spent in the industry. She says she opened her own restaurant to create a job for herself. “I’m 53 years old, and in this industry, at this age, people tend to pass you by. They tend to want younger workers, and sometimes they don’t see all of your experience. So I created myself a job.”
Marie is proud to serve Molson products based on the years of great interactions she’s had with the company. She also carries some local options like Two Islands Brewing from Parrsboro, Coldstream Clear Distilling from Stewiacke, and Nine Locks Brewing from Dartmouth. “I’m loyal to people who are loyal to me,” Marie says while explains how she carefully curates her selection of drink offerings.
When it comes to the food, The Blunt Bartender has a beautiful menu of dishes created by Marie. “Let’s just say I’m not the person you want to take out to eat as your date,” Marie jokes when explaining her cooking inspiration. “I’m famous for ordering everything on the menu, just to have a couple of bites of everything and take the rest home. I can’t decide what I want, and everything sounds good, so I try it all!”
“So I’ll be trying all of these dishes and thinking, ‘this one is really good, but it could use this’, and then I’ll go home and play with it, come up with my own spin and create something new.”
Almost everything served in The Blunt Bartender is homemade from scratch, except for a few of the standard condiments like ketchup and mayo, Marie and her staff make most of the sauces as well.
“We try to do everything from scratch, because it’s nice for people to get a homecooked meal,” Marie says. “I also love the presentation part of it. I love making everything look nice on the plate.”
In addition to working hard in her restaurant, Marie works had to give back to the local community as well. The first COVID-19 lockdown came a couple of days after she put in a huge food order for St. Paddy’s day, one of her busiest days of the year, so Marie quickly went into action delivering the food to people in need. “I didn’t want to waste it, I’m glad we were able to donate it,” she says. “We also made sure our staff were taken care of, and that they knew they could call us anytime if they needed us.”
The Blunt Bartender also has a box at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre that they frequently donate to fundraising events or community groups. “Giving back is really important to us,” Dave says.
“Sometimes I’ll just be sitting by myself and start to giggle, because I’m happy; I still can’t believe I own my own restaurant,” says Marie.
Please note: her husband Dave is also very cool.