Demarco’s Confectionary is no more, but the current owners of that North Bay location have stayed true to the tradition of serving delicious meals, just don’t go looking for menu options like meatloaf sandwiches, a customer favourite served up by the former Demarco’s owners.
In fact, don’t go looking for meat at all
“My food is vegan, so it is all plant-based. It is just nostalgic food from my past, being made plant-based. No meat, no dairy, “ explained owner Melissa Wyness who has named her restaurant North Star Diner.
“I’ve been working with food most of my life. I did a lot of farmer's markets, that is where I got started.”
Exposure from the markets resulted in “quite a bit of a following, so that was very helpful.”
She eventually set out to have her own permanent location which she found at the Demarco’s location.
The diner is thought to be North Bay’s first vegan restaurant.
"There is a food truck that is plant-based but that is seasonal, we are dine-in,” Wyness explained.
“What a beautiful spot, lots of history. It is a comforting place, there is a lot of people you know. You come in here and just feel a nice vibe and I think it is more about community and not just about food. ”
Wyness became familiar with North Bay when her father moved to the area 20 years ago, and subsequently, put down her own roots.
As interesting as the food is, customers will be equally as enthralled by the décor which can best be described as an eclectic mix of the owner’s own artwork and pop culture.
“I went to school for visual arts and then I got into cooking in my 20’s.”
The menu changes as Wyness goes about creating new taste sensations.
“What I started off with, was making homemade tortillas, every week changing the ethnicity of the flavours. So I could do Ethiopian, then Indian, and then maybe Mexican, just kind of all over the world flavours.”
She has had a good response to her Big Mac Quesadilla.
“It is vegan ground beef with onions and sweet pickles, and like a Big Mac type sauce and cheese.”
Which is plant-based vegan cheese.
Green taco is another popular menu option.
“There is a green sauce which is arugula and parsley and garlic. There is some vegan halloumi cheese, there is some guacamole, and some Beyond Beef which is a plant-based beef product that we just fry up. And there is a green salsa, it is like a cucumber, jalapeno, green onion, and green pepper salsa. There are some pickled pink onions and some vegan sour cream.”
Wyness chooses to keep her menu small.
“We change it quite often. And we usually have a special every night,” Wyness shared.
“Everything is made from scratch basically, and presentation is important.”
The restaurant owner is proud to source food locally, through community-shared agriculture.
“So you would be involved with the farm, and every week they would give you a selection of their vegetables over the summer.”
Even people with dietary restrictions can find something to enjoy.
“We do gluten-free options. People love it. Most of our clientele are not vegetarian or vegan. It is nostalgic home cooking. I love being in North Bay. There is a great community of support here and I really appreciate that.”
North Star Diner offers its plant-based comfort food on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Saturday supper from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
“For brunch, we do eggs benny, pancakes, and all kinds of breakfast-type foods. We have a local bacon vegan business that makes vegan bacon, and that is called The Kind Butcher.”
Wyness has expanded the fun element to include bingo nights, once every two weeks.
“It is pretty packed in here. It is free, and there are prizes. It is a lot of fun,” grinned Wyness.
“And we just started doing karaoke, so we’ll be doing that once a month. And we have bands playing here and there.”
Wyness says she has great community support.
“And I really appreciate that.”
To find out more about North Star Diner, check out its Facebook page.