Originally built in 1966 by Seward Chiasson & Milton Aucoin, The Surfside Tavern has been popular amongst locals and tourists alike since Day 1. The original building, known as the “tavern side” is located in front of the bar and was a Men’s-only watering hole, selling bottled beer, draught beer and bottled wine only. Although it is very hard to believe that only men were allowed in the bar, that is what was common at that point in time. Women were not permitted in the establishment until 1970 when the new owner, Eddie Aucoin (Milton’s son), decided to double the building’s size and re-brand as the Doryman Beverage Room. The new side of the building, known as the “lounge side” (which is adjacent to the Cabot Trail road) is where most of our tables still are today and it’s also this side of the building that holds the famous Doryman Stage. The stage was not always located in the same corner however. Believe it or not, pre-1980, the Doryman stage was comprised of two pool tables with a sheet of plywood on top, and bands (such as Doryman regulars – The Phantoms) would use this set up as a stage.
In 1977, the Doryman Beverage Room sold to an accountant from Dartmouth, NS, named James McCarthy. McCarthy also owned The North End Bar in Halifax. It was under his ownership that our famous Saturday Afternoon Fiddle Matinée officially began. [It is worth noting however, that previous owner Eddie Aucoin, would hire some fiddlers once in a while for a “one-off” gig in the busy summer months in the prior years.] The original trio of artists to perform every Saturday afternoon were Donny LeBlanc, André LeBlanc & Gélase Larade. This lineup performed every single Saturday afternoon from 1977 until 1997.
By 1986, the year after their former Acadian Lounge burnt down to the ground, local brothers Wilburt and Ron Aucoin, had bought the Doryman from McCarthy. In the late 90’s there was more competition in the Cheticamp bar scene than ever before and in order to compete, different lineups of fiddlers were brought in on Saturday’s to draw more customers. The Original Trio however still continued to perform on a regular basis and they still occasionally take the Doryman stage to this day.
1992 was another landmark year for the Doryman as the sales of hard liquor were introduced in June of that year. Patrons could now purchase beer, draught, wine by the bottle or glass, spirits, coolers and food – because in order to sell hard liquor, the Doryman had to offer a food options. The menu might have been basic, with steaks, wings, scallops, clams, chicken fingers, burgers and fries, but people still talk about it to this day. Another important event that occured in 1992 was the birth of our famous Thursday Night Talent Night. This event began one week before the introduction of the hard liquor license at the Doryman and featured longtime host Gerry Romard as the showrunner. The premise of the show was that the house band would play some songs, and then they would bring up talent from the crowd to perform. At the time, Talent Night would be packed 52 Thursdays a year and the top 3 performers would win 1 of 3 prizes: dinner for 2, dinner for 1, or a t-shirt/hat. The hosting lineup has changed over the years but Talent Night still happens every Thursday from May to October and draws crowds and talent from all walks of life.
In November 2006, the Doryman was sold to New Waterford siblings with Cheticamp roots, Gerard, Claude & Denise LeFort. Under their ownership, the Doryman continued to prosper and attract artists and customers from all over the world. During their tenure, the LeForts expanded the Doryman once again by adding a full kitchen area, relocating the washrooms and adding a basement for storage.
On Christmas Eve 2010, the Doryman was sold to Claude Bourgeois & Christina Roberts. It was during their ownership that the Doryman Beverage Room was re-branded as the Doryman Pub & Grill and underwent some much-needed renovations such as new windows, siding, roof, carpet, entry doors and kitchen equipment. It was also during their tenure that popular events such as Wing Night and Chase The Ace were introduced and world-renowned performers such as Ron Hynes, Georgette Jones, Brakin’ Tradition, and many more took the Doryman stage. Many popular Acadian Country artists from New Brunswick were also frequent performers on the Doryman stage during this period.
Claude & Christina carried the Doryman torch until it was purchased by local entrepreneur, Marc Neary, in June 2020. Although purchasing a bar during a pandemic might seem like an unlikely task to some, Neary knew that if he could capitalize on the Doryman’s reputation and find a way to elevate it even more, everything would work out. Since taking over, current ownership has introduced the very successful Sunday Brunch, a Steak & Ale Night on Wednesday’s, and a brand new live music series with no cover charge on Friday evenings during Wing Night. The Doryman was locked down twice due to Covid-19 restrictions since Neary took over but the down-time provided the chance to do some more major renovations such as two new restrooms, a new sit-down bar, new tables and bar stools, a renovated back-bar, and a new walk-in freezer, among others.
A lot has changed over the years but one thing remains the same – The Doryman is a place to gather among friends, to take in some great music, have a great meal and to enjoy some good times. The only question left to ask is what will the next 56 years bring? We truly hope you are along with us for the ride. Cheers!