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Canning's Big Wigs diner has closed

Big Wigs manager Beth Huntley stands in the family owned and operated diner on Main Street in Canning.
Big Wigs manager Beth Huntley stands in the family owned and operated diner on Main Street in Canning. - Ashley Thompson

Owners also run Canning Meat Market, plan to diversify that instead

CANNING, NS – Big Wigs, Canning’s town diner, has officially closed for business.

The diner had closed Dec. 23 for the season, and owners Nancy and Oscar Huntley had originally intended to open again in the spring, but after reviewing end of year numbers and seeing the final counts, the decision to close was made.

It wasn’t an easy decision according to Nancy, who said she and her husband poured over the numbers and even hired a marketing consultant to help come up with a way of remaining open, but they couldn’t make it happen.

“This decision is very sad for us. We loved our staff, and loved bringing a diner to Canning that many people came to and enjoyed, but when the numbers aren’t there, you’ve got to make the hard decisions,” she said.

Prioritizing their main business

The Huntleys are also the owners of the Canning Meat Market, a well-known and much-loved business that’s been a Canning staple for years.

The couple initially opened Big Wigs as a way to expand the market’s products, but Nancy said this is where things got more difficult than expected.

“It felt like we weren’t branding or serving our products enough to feel like we were seeing that initial vision through,” she said.

“The restaurant business is tough, and Canning is a small area. Marrying the two businesses seemed like a great idea but didn’t seem to work for us.”

Nancy Huntley says closing the diner was a difficult decision, but a necessary one so she and Oscar could return the focus to diversifying the Canning Meat Market business.
Nancy Huntley says closing the diner was a difficult decision, but a necessary one so she and Oscar could return the focus to diversifying the Canning Meat Market business.

The business first opened in July 2016 and closed for a short time due to staffing issues. It reopened that December, remaining open until this last closing.

After a year and a half, the diner’s guestbook is now full of entries from locals and tourists alike. Reading it was a bittersweet moment for Nancy, who said it made the decision to close an even sadder one.

“We know this diner meant a lot to many people, and it did do well during the tourist season. It was a fun place, just like we intended, so this hasn’t been easy,” she said.

Diversifying the market itself

The decision to close has prompted the Huntleys to think of diversification in another way – working within the meat market itself.

While staying mum on the details, Nancy has revealed plans are in the works to reuse the diner’s space in a different way to expand on space to display their current products.

Nancy feels some relief that while the diner will never open again, the space will at least be used in a different, creative way.

Meetings with agricultural and marketing consultants have been set, and Nancy said meetings with the County over how the new space will work are sure to come as well.

“We can’t keep up with the demand. Our smoked meats – pepperonis, beer jerkey, bacon – are so popular, and we need more space for them,” she said.

“This is where our energy is going. We’re still sad we had to close the diner, but so excited for this new step for us.”

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