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CoverStory Hoito Local Spin on Finnish Fare Since 1918 By Tiffany Jarva F inn food is practically synonymous with Thunder Bay. Funny guy Rick Mercer has done his shtick at the Hoito. It’s featured on The Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here! and copi- ous amounts of articles and blogs have been dedicated to the experience of eat- ing the famous thin Finnish pancakes in the blonde wood-paneled basement of Canada’s first co-op restaurant. Back in the early days, the restau- rant was established to serve hearty, large portions at low prices to hard- working bush workers and pension- ers. Today, it serves hometown regulars and tourists and still boasts waitresses who are fluent in Finnish. We thought, given that this is our International Food issue, it would be relevant to poke around and find out some fun stats, like how many pancakes, mojakka, and piirakka (the next most popular Finnish dishes) are served in a given year. When asked what continues to make the Hoito (hoito means “care” in Finnish) appealing, new manager Francis Gaudino says, “I think it’s nos- talgia—the community has embraced the Hoito. It’s a communal place. There is always something colourful happen- ing. And it’s home cooking the way it was always done.” 12 The Walleye Some Stats* Approximately 95,000 people were served last year, which equates to about 260 people per day, and 1.4 million dollars in sales In the 1930s, the cost for dinner was 25 cents, and today the average cheque is $15 1,950 lbs of flour is used in one month—that’s 23, 400 lbs in a year The most popular menu item is pancakes with bacon, ham, or sausage; they serve 1,988 dishes a month Typically there are four on the line at a time in the kitchen, plus a head cook, dishwasher, and salad prep There 65-100 people on the payroll at a time Served in a year: Finnish pancakes: 67, 860 Bowls of mojakka: 5, 664 Orders of piirrikka: 1,932 Plates of liver and onions: 1, 680 Orders of salt fish: 708 *Stats are based on data from April 2014-April 2015