Chowder House on Main – An Iconic Tatamagouche Dining Experience

Beth Dunphy has owned Chowder House on Main for 10 years in an iconic building in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. While the town is a beautiful travel destination with many seasonal tourists, Dunphy credits the local customers for keeping the iconic restaurant’s doors open, especially during challenging times that the restaurant and industry have seen over the last few years. Dunphy is proud to be part of the revitalization of Tatamagouche’s Main St and for carrying on the diner’s tradition of providing exceptional customer service and for home-cooked meals from scratch. 


Beth Dunphy is a mother and grandmother who enjoys cooking and exploring. She takes every opportunity to get outdoors with her family. She was a hairdresser for almost 30 years when she became the owner of the Chowder House on Main in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. Dunphy grew up on a farm and loved that her mother always made home-cooked meals. The restaurant is a staple in the small village of Tatamagouche. Before Dunphy took over, the previous owner had owned and operated the restaurant in the same building for more than 25 years, and before that, it was a bakery and coffee shop. The iconic building has hosted many food establishments over the years and continues the tradition of feeding amazing meals to locals and tourists alike as the home to Chowder House on Main. 

Dunphy and her staff have served homecooked meals from scratch since 2013. While the regular clientele enjoys sitting in the restaurant to enjoy a hot meal, Dunphy says they also have quick takeout options for those who are on a tight schedule or on a work break. She explains that the restaurant is located on Highway 6 better known as Main Street, and only a short walking distance of other amenities and shops that have made the waterside town a travel destination. 

Within the past ten years of Dunphy owning Chowder House on Main, the small town has grown. “There’s something going on in every building on the street” she says. “You can walk the street and go in every door.” She describes Tatamagouche by saying “It has a happy vibe. It’s friendly, it’s fun, the people want to socialize and see what’s here.” 

From May until December, Chowder House on Main stays busy. The weekends are typically the time Dunphy expects to see tourists at her restaurant. Tourists are drawn to Tatamagouche from Ski Wentworth being close by, many cottages in the area, and the Tatamagouche Farmer’s Market. During the winter, tourists travel from all over to ski and snowboard at Ski Wentworth, which is a short drive away. In the warmer months, tourists can rent a cottage in Tatamagouche to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches of the Northumberland Shore and the warmest ocean water temperatures on the Atlantic coast north of Virginia.  Dunphy says during the week of any season, the restaurant’s sales depend heavily on the locals. She goes on to say that Chowder House on Main has a huge amount of community support and that she is extremely appreciative.

When visiting Chowder House on Main, customers can expect friendly staff and a clean environment. Since the meals are made from scratch, it may take longer to cook than at your average fast-food franchise. But the quality of the meal is worth the wait. The ingredients are mainly sourced from Atlantic Canada, but they try to source local ingredients when they can. The Chowder House on Main is licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. They sell locally made Tatamagouche Brewery products as well as Malagash Cidery cider, and Nova Scotia-made Alexander Keith’s and Oland’s beer. This year during the off-season, Dunphy took advantage of local musicians wanting a place to play live music before their regular gigs. She explains that there are other restaurants in town that also host live music, so they chose Friday nights during the off-season. The restaurants in town don’t want to interfere with each other’s events, so they coordinate as best as they can. “The musicians are interested in playing and love to play, but our dining room is not very large,” Dunphy says. It will be tricky to continue live music during the busy season due to the small dining space, so she decided it’s best to keep it during the winter months. “We’re becoming a full house every time the musicians are playing. It’s really wonderful and it’s the highlight of the week. Our staff loves the entertainment and they’re having a good time with the customers on live music nights” she says.

Chowder House on Main is open seven days a week. The restaurant opens at 8:00 in the morning, through to 7PM. On Friday and Saturday nights, the closure may vary. Friday nights are typically the busiest, with the restaurant staying open until 8:00PM.

The commonly requested menu items include seafood chowder, hamburgers, fish and chips, and hot chicken sandwiches. “You can mix it up however you want. Our menu is just a suggestion” Dunphy says. 

They are closed for Remembrance Day, Christmas, and New Years, but otherwise, customers can count on Chowder House on Main to be open. “Our staff are amazing” Dunphy says. “They allow us to be open seven days a week because they want to work. You can count on us being there. It’s rare that we’re closed.”  She goes on to say that the customers, especially the Tatamagouche locals, play a main role in the restaurant’s success. “The only reason we’re there is all thanks to the customers.” Dunphy emphasizes how grateful she is for her staff and her customers, new and old.

A couple of the challenges Dunphy and her staff have faced over the past couple of years are the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase in food costs. She explains that the restrictions negatively impacted the business but how fortunate they were to have support from local customers. “We were so limited by the restrictions, and we were shut down for almost three months,” she says. On top of the pandemic obstacles, they have had to change the menu in order to accommodate the increasing price of ingredients. “We do the best we can not to take huge price jumps, we redo the menu pricing very cautiously,” she says. Despite the constant increase in costs, Dunphy only makes price changes once a year. They work around food shortages and continue to source high-quality ingredients. It is important for Chowder House on Main to serve quality meals to their customers, even if that entails finding new products due to shortages. Dunphy says while it may take a while to get back to pre-pandemic prices and profits, she is very thankful her restaurant was able to stay open. 

Some new things to look forward to at Chowder House on Main include new breakfast items on the menu. They have done a lot of work on the breakfast options and continue to try new ideas. Dunphy says they also take customer feedback into consideration while changing the menu. “We’re adding all the new items that have been our weekly specials onto our menu because they are quite popular.”  She says she often thinks about changing the lunch and dinner menu. But whenever she looks at it, she just wants to add to it, not take anything away. 

Next time you find yourself on Trunk 6 heading through Tatamagouche, take advantage of the many activities it has to offer. Rent a cottage, take a canoe out on the ocean, or even ride a bicycle through the town. No matter how you choose to spend your time, be sure to stop at Chowder House on Main for a hot meal and exceptional customer service. Although with the very large menu selection, you may have to stop by multiple times. 

Beth Dunphy’s entrepreneurial journey is only just beginning, and we look forward to seeing what more there is to come. 

by Gabrielle Gamblin