In this month’s installment of our Let’s Eat segment, we visit a little restaurant tucked neatly away in an industrial area of North Bay.
Located on Wallace Road close to a local arena, a community college campus, with a residential area just a few miles down the road, sits the Home Style Café, connected to Community Living North Bay which operates the restaurant.
“We are a little bit of a secret. We are kind of out of the way, but word is spreading quite fast I have to admit,” said Café manager Lisette Nault.
The restaurant is a not-for-profit, with all the proceeds going right back into Community Living programs and services.
The café offers fresh and frozen meals, hot take out dishes and desserts which are extremely popular with those who have a sweet tooth. The dessert menu is a popular go-to option especially during the Christmas holidays.
As the holidays quickly approach, baking is in full swing.
“Our Christmas baking is probably our busiest time of the year. I am going to be spending the weeks right up until Christmas baking every single weekend. Every day that I have that little bit of an opportunity is huge,” said Nault.
The desserts are a mixture of cookies, squares and the ever popular butter tarts.
“The sugar cookies, peanut butter balls and short bread are pretty much the only ones we don’t make regularly. The shortbreads are probably the most requested followed by sugar cookies and chocolate chip. We have two different types of marshmallow treats. One we call Marshmallow Heaven squares and the other is Rocky Road squares.“
People pre-order as early as August to ensure they have their holiday treats for Christmas.
Nault warns against waiting until the last minute to order get your holiday favourites.
“Our pre-orders are already stacking up quite fast. The butter tarts and the peanut butter balls are extremely popular. Last year we made 110 dozen and we had none left by the beginning of December. So they do go fast.”
The restaurant also provides a catering service.
The Café manager explains that the restaurant started as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities.
“When Bill 148 came in, and we weren’t a registered training centre, we had to stop training. We are a not-for-profit restaurant.”
A renovation three years ago has helped boost sales.
“It really opened up the restaurant and brightened it up. It is a very friendly atmosphere. People really enjoy coming here, especially larger groups. We have groups from many different areas of town that come here on a regular basis. The groups are getting larger and because of the renovation we’re actually able to accommodate that,” Nault shared.
“There is a group we call the ‘Car Guys’. They all have souped up cars they show at car nights in town. They’re in here on a regular basis as well. And we get a lot of local business people and students from the nearby campus and some from the various neighbourhoods.”
Some of the regulars are part of the breakfast crowd.
“Our biggest ticket item on the breakfast menu is our Northern Omelette. The reason for calling it a Northern Omelette is because of the Thornloe cheese curds we add to the omelettes. Most people associate curds with poutine, a truly northern dish,” said Nault.
Others come for the lunch menu.
“For our lunch menu, our chicken fingers are probably our best seller. We do chip our own fresh fries every day and make coleslaw fresh every day.”
The lunch menu offers a variety of platters including hot dog, hamburger, classic triple decker club and fish and chips.
There is also a selection of salads, sandwiches and wraps.
A hot supper take-out is another option for the end of the day.
Each day features a different dish. Examples of the mouth watering choices for hot meals to go include chicken parmesan served with pasta and garlic bread, salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables, beef taco wrap served with veggies and dip, and sesame chicken stir fry served with seasoned rice.
“We have a hot meal available every single day. So people can pre-order and it is available for pick up between 3:30 and 5:30 ready to serve the family. We’ve just been doing the hot meals since COVID 19 started, so we’re still in the learning process but it is going well.”
The frozen food section offers single and family size meals.
“Our small would usually feed two people and our large generally feeds anywhere from four to six people,” explained Nault.
“And it could be anything from lasagna to spaghetti sauce, shephard’s pie and homemade baked beans. And everything in our freezer is made right here in-house.”
And the food options don’t stop there.
“We make meat pies and chicken pot pies on a regular basis and apple pies and blueberry pies on occasion. I would say 90 per cent of what we serve is made in-house,” shared Nault.
The Home Style Café is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.