The Next Big Thing in the Waterfront District

Story by Leah Morningstar

If you’re a pizza lover, then you’ve very likely tried Eat Local Pizza at some point in the past 11 years. Yes, 11—that’s how long Thunder Bay has been enjoying the amazing signature pizzas introduced by Jim Stadey in 2010. And if you’re a burger lover, you’ll have surely sampled the menu items at Beefcake’s Burger Factory in Current River. Derek Lankinen opened the restaurant two years ago and it has quickly built up a loyal following.

Stadey and Lankinen have known one another, in passing, for decades. They have both worked in the restaurant industry for their entire careers. Despite circling one another for years, they didn’t really become friends until the 2018 municipal election, when they both unsuccessfully ran for councillor-at-large. Their brief foray into local politics was not only the start of a friendship, but a business relationship as well. It was while they were getting to know each other and talking politics that the idea of a local taco shop was first brought up.

Stadey and Lankinen found that their business ideas and work ethics really meshed. “Derek and I really work well together,” Stadey says. “We usually talk out our ideas and it all just seems easy; things just come out better when we work together.” The success of both Beefcake’s Burger Factory and Eat Local Pizza is indicative of what hard work can do. Lankinen says that “hard work was ingrained in both of us from a very young age.” He continues, saying that “Jim and I both take enormous pride in being the absolute best we can be both personally and professionally. We’re going to put as much love into Eat Loco Tacos that we do into everything else we’ve done and everything we’ll do in the future.”

So what can the customer expect from Eat Loco Tacos? It will mostly be a take-out establishment, with limited seating inside. “We’ll be starting with a small selection of simple, flavourful options that will grow over time,” Lankinen says. “But we’ll also be featuring seasonal and rotating specials,” Stadey adds. Both confirmed that sourcing products locally will be of utmost importance, as they firmly believe in supporting local as much as possible.

Stadey and Lankinen agreed that they feel excited about all the hard work they’ve done, building successful businesses from the ground up. Both have recently started families of their own and the idea of building something they can potentially pass on to the next generations feels like a major accomplishment.

Keep your eyes locked on 18 St. Paul Street in the Waterfront District. That’s where you’ll find the tacos. Visit their Facebook page @eatlocotacos.