Skip to content

Popular lake home to fantastic fries

The popular chip bus is being rebranded, but is still serving up local favourites

Gillies Lake is a special place for Timmins residents.

It features a beach, a walking trail, boardwalk and trees, right near the hustle and bustle of Algonquin Boulevard and Highway 655. It is known for swimming, wakeboarding and a quick taste of the outdoors. And, according to customers of Bubbles Fries, it’s the place to get fantastic french fries.

Carole Beaulieu owns Bubbles Fries with her husband, Mario. They have run the popular chip stand for three years.

“I was born and raised in Timmins,” she said. “I was always into the restaurant industry. I was a waitress at The Broadway for eight years and before that started in 1989 at Dimples, and was 12 years there.”

Running her own place was always a goal.

“I was tired of working for someone else,” Beaulieu said. “We decided to try this, jumped right in and I love it.”

They are slowly transitioning the name from Bubbles Fries to 4-Ever Fries. They kept the name out of respect for previous owners, who named the business after their child.

“My husband and I have known each other for over 30 years and have been married for 10 years on July 19,” she said. “When we started going out, every month he would buy me a ring and inside the ring he would have engraved ‘forever.’ He suggested the name.

“So that’s how 4-Ever Fries name came about.”

The foundation of a good chip stand is, of course, the fries. She doesn’t release too many details about the process she uses at Bubble’s.

“I can’t divulge all my secrets,” she said. “But we peel and cut here. We cook here.

“There’s no one else in Timmins that does them this way. The ideal fry is crispy on the outside, mashie on the inside.”

When it comes to fries, to peel or not to peel, that is the question.

“The first year, we didn’t peel,” Beaulieu said. “I had a partner my first year who said we don’t need to peel. But as the year went by, I had a lot of comments about why don’t we peel, and business was not that good.

“My husband, who doesn’t like peels, said we should start peeling. He was on a break from work, so he was peeling that summer. He was probably peeling 300 lbs of potatoes a day. We are averaging now 30-35 bags, 50-pound bags, a week.

“Ever since then, we do it.”

The fries are the foundation for their locally famous poutines.

“I kept the Bubbles Poutine (ground beef, popcorn chicken and bacon) on the menu. It’s a great seller,” she said. “I also have a 4-Ever Poutine that consists chicken breast, sausage and cheddar cheese.

“We have three kinds of pizza poutines. Doing the same thing as pizza but with poutine. Deluxe has mushrooms, onions and peppers. Canadian has mushrooms, bacon and pepperoni, and three-meat has sausage, ham and pepperoni.”

There is more to making a winning poutine than just putting cheese and gravy on top.

“All my poutines are double-layered,” Beaulieu said. “So there are fries, cheese, gravy (and other toppings as ordered), then fries and more cheese, gravy and so on.”

There are a variety of poutines available.

“Specialty poutines are Italian, chili and taco,” she said. “I make my homemade Italian sauce — spaghetti sauce — here. I make homemade chili and I also make the taco mix (seasoned ground beef).

“Then I have, of course, the bacon poutine, hamburger steak and onion poutine, and the customers have the choice of four kinds of cheese, Quebec (curds), shredded, barbecue, dill and you can get the mixed.”

There is even a poutine made with perogies instead of fries.

“Perogie poutine is a great seller,” Beaulieu said. “I put that on the menu last year. It consists of 10 perogies, cheese of your choice, bacon, green onions, smothered in gravy. It’s very nice, very good and different. People are just loving it.”

The homemade chili used is also a hearty meal on its own. It also complements other dishes on the menu.

“The chili dogs are very popular,” she said. “This year I added chili cheese fries and it’s going so, so good. We’re selling tons of those.

“I wasn’t selling it and people asked if we could, so I thought we should try it. And wow, I should have tried it years ago.

“If people are asking for it, you got to try it. I try to cater to everybody. It’s hard but I try.”

Given how everything else is prepared, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the burgers are also homemade.

“Our burgers are all 100 per cent local beef,” she said. “I don’t put anything in the burgers because a lot of people have allergies. We make the patties, they’re six ounces and the burgers are huge.

“We probably go through 30-40 homemade burgers a day.”

There are other ways to build great burgers other than just adding cheese or bacon.

“I have a 4-Ever burger that consists of — our chicken burgers are all real chicken, deep fried chicken — a six-ounce chicken breast and a hamburger beef patty,” Beaulieu said. “Then you have your Bubbles Burger, which has two patties. All with your choice of toppings.

“The Bubbles Burger and the Bubbles Poutine, I’m going to keep those. They’re good sellers and everyone recognizes them.”

For the cost of a combo meal at a fast-food franchise, customers can enjoy fresh food.

“When you order, that’s when you start cooking,” she said. “There is a wait time, 10 minutes, on really busy days, maybe 15.

“It’s not made ahead. For example, you take an onion ring and it’s sitting for an hour, then it’s hard as a rock.”

Another customer favourite is Pogos (corn dogs) — regular and homemade.

“We go through probably about close to about 100 homemade Pogos a week,” she said. “The batter is made here and we cook them. There’s a lot of work involved, but people love it.”

They also have finger lickers (also known as appetizers) such as onion rings, mushroom caps, cheese sticks, deep-fried pickles, broccoli cheddar cheese bites, pizza fingers, chicken fingers and popcorn chicken.

Sandwiches include pulled pork on a bun, a western, a BLT and a grilled cheese.

There are also combos available for those with a smaller appetite, kids and seniors. There is a choice of a Pogo, hot dog, grilled cheese, mini burger, two chicken fingers or two pizza fingers served with fries and a juice box. Cool snacks include Slushies, Mr. Freezes and ice cream treats.

This summer, the business has been targeted twice by thieves.

But the Bubbles crew moves on

“It’s disheartening. You work hard for the little bit that you have,” Beaulieu said. “I just came back with an order and you come in the next day and it’s gone.

“They broke every door, had to get everything fixed and replaced, it all costs money, just to come back and get it stolen again.”

It has been important for them to move forward despite such challenges.

“I love my place,” Beaulieu said. “I love it when my customers say, ‘You have the best fries in town.’

“Any feedback is good, whether it is bad, good or so-so. You have to take that and roll with it. If you come here and don’t like something, talk to me about it and we’ll try to change that. I cater to the people.”

She credits her staff, particularly their manager Brianna, with their success.

Beaulieu also has her favourite comfort food order that she’ll have once in a while.

“It’s the bacon cheeseburger with perogie poutine on the side,” she said with a smile. “I love it, it’s good food.”

Bubbles Fries is located at Gillies Lake in the south parking lot near the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority. It is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reach them by phone at 705-267-4433 or visit their Facebook Page.