This is one in a series of articles in the feature called "Let's Eat" which focuses on the local food and dining scene. This time we touch base with Moose's Cookhouse at 134 Main Street East in North Bay.
Brody Freeland is an Operational Partner at the Moose and has been there for eight years. He took the time to bring us up to speed on what's going on at the popular local eatery.
"Like every other restaurant in town, adapting to the pandemic has been our biggest challenge and our biggest focus," says Freeland.
"The moment we found out we couldn't have people in the restaurant anymore we immediately adapted, and focused on pick-up and delivery," he explains.
One thing they decided to do right off the bat, was to give a price break on their most popular, signature item, their wings. Typically the price for a pound would be a few bucks higher, but they went to their new "pandemic price" to $9.99/lb. That's still the new delivery price for now. Freeland says that it did serve as an incentive to sell, but was more than that.
"Normally you'd only see that price as a special, it would only be in-house and only once or twice a week. But we knew things were going to be tight for people. North Bay's been pretty good to us over the past 24 years, so we wanted to find a way to give a little back. By reducing our wing price, we figured it might let a few more families enjoy wings, even though times might be tight financially," he adds.
A big positive change for them was when the province said on June 12th, that outdoor patios could be used again. The Moose is well known for its popular downtown summer patio.
"Safety protocols mean it is different for us though. Normally our patio has six tables, but to allow social distancing, we only have four tables,' said Freeland.
"The city and the AGCO have been very helpful and supportive, and we have been able to carefully place some satellite tables on the sidewalk, with distancing observed."
So just how popular are their chicken wings? Brody breaks it down this way, saying "to this day wings are probably 75 per cent to 80 per cent of our food sales, week in and week out. We go through 1,200 pounds of wings a week, that's about 12,000 individual wings every seven days."
"We believe it's the personal touch we use that makes the difference. Every wing is cooked fresh, by hand. There's no mechanical dusting, no mechanical saucing. It's old-school," he adds.
The cookhouse does have a full menu though and even added pizza as a regular item a couple of years back. So after the wings, what are the most popular items?
"Burgers would usually be second, and the Roadhouse Roll Up would usually be the third most popular item," he says. It's comprised of pulled-pork made in-house and served in a flour tortilla.
He looks forward to seeing the full team together again. They had to lay off over 40 people when the pandemic hit, and they've been able to bring about a third of the staff back.
"We have great people working with us. There's no playbook for a situation like this. We were truly winging it, and we learned to rely on our remaining staff and trust their input on everything we've done."
The easiest way to place an order at the Moose is to call 705-472-8834.