MadJacks Café: A Little Touch of Britain on the North Channel of Lake Huron

Offering UK-style snacks as well as imported treats (crisps, anyone?) this cafe is a must-stop on your island travels.

Did you know that a little café named after Maddy (Mad) and Jackie (Jacks) Knisley, a daughter/mother duo, who teamed up to open British-themed MadJacks Café opened in the pretty village of Hilton Beach on St. Joseph Island, just thirty minutes east of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario?

I had the opportunity to meet up with them both on a sunny afternoon recently, “We opened in May 2022, so this is our second season,” said Jackie. 

madjacks cafe interior madjacks2-outdoorpatio.jpg
(Photo credits: Sandra Trainor)

“I moved to the island from Collingwood, Ontario. I was a registered nurse there. My daughter lived in the area, and they gave me a tour of the island. I liked it so much I thought that I would love to live here. One thing led to another, we saw that this business and land were for sale, and we decided to buy it. I also purchased a home here in Hilton Beach. Then my daughter and I set out to transform the business into to MadJacks Café,” she added.

It’s a seasonal business, opening around the May long weekend until the end of October. “Last year we did a Halloween-themed party for the local kids,” said Maddy. 

MadJacks cafe owners
(Photo credit: MadJacks Café)

The café started with one building which had a kitchen and a small food service counter, with outdoor picnic tables. Building on the success of the previous season, in early 2023, expansion took place by adding two new buildings on the property, a dedicated retail store, and a larger food counter, with room for additional food and beverages, along with a covered eating area and gazebo. There are additional picnic tables out front. It's also a dog-friendly business with bowls of water on offer and special doggy scones available for purchase. 

MadJacks Cafe exteriror MadJacks Cafe food MadJacks Cafe coffee and bun
(Photo credit: MadJacks Café)

The Menu

The café offers the “Rollin’ Willy” a jumbo hotdog, named after the café's mascot dog, Willy. Also on offer are loaded jacket potatoes both British (shredded cheese and baked beans) and Canadian (sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon, green onion) styles, along with a variety of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. 

Scones, gluten-free brownies, cookies, and more are baked fresh daily. Craving something cool? "We do not offer ice cream cones, but do offer slices of ice cream pie,” Maddy says. A unique treat for a warm day! 

MadJacks Cafe hotdog MadJacks Cafe loaded potato jackets
(Photo credit: MadJacks Café)

In the little retail store, MadJacks offers imported British treats including crisps, chocolates, teas, and jams, as well as MadJack's own Apple Ginger jam, along with sparkling water, iced coffee, and British brand fizzy drinks. Their customers love finding foods not found anywhere else close by. 

MadJacks cafe drinks madjacks cafe cake madjacks cafe bread
(Photo credit: MadJacks Café)

Where did the British theme come from? Jackie is originally from London, England. She moved to Canada in 1979. Her British influence not only shows in what the café offers in food and beverages, but her strong London accent is a welcoming voice to all their customers, tourists, and locals alike. 

MadJacks cafe mugs
(Photo credit: MadJacks Café)

This mum-and-daughter team is well on their way to making MadJacks Café a favourite, welcoming stop for a bite for everyone who visits beautiful St. Joseph Island whether by car or boat.

MadJacks Cafe

Owners Jackie and Maddy Knisley
Location: 3112 Marks Street, Hilton Beach, (steps from the Hilton Beach marina), St. Joseph Island, Ontario
Open: 6 days per week – Closed Wednesdays, May to October – check social media for specific dates and times
Facebook: www.facebook.com/madjackscafehiltonbeach
Instagram: @madjackscafe 

About Sandra J. Trainor

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Sandra is a Freelance Marketing Consultant, specializing in assisting busy small businesses maximize sales and marketing ROI. Sandra recently returned to her hometown, after living and working in the Simcoe County area for more than 30 years. It was there where she developed her passion for local food and agriculture, while working with farmers, producers, farmers’ markets, retailers, and restaurateurs. She believes that food brings people together, no matter what their background and that food grown and produced close to us should be not only supported, but celebrated. In her spare time, Sandra loves to explore area lakes in her kayak and spending time at her cottage on the North Shore.

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