Wild Thyme, “a dream come true” for chef Joe Fleury, started as a lunch spot in the Victoriaville Mall in 2019. The following year, they moved to the Hub Bazaar on Victoria Avenue East, a “retail business incubator” owned and operated by Lori Paras. The Hub Bazaar is a large space housing multiple vendors under its roof, most of them small and new businesses that can’t afford to splash out on an expensive retail space.
At the Hub Bazaar, Fleury and his partner Christina Lane worked hard to grow their business, cooking, packaging and delivering “heat and eat” meals across the city. After a while, though, the pair had a good problem on their hands - they were outgrowing the space.
“We had a little stove, a little fridge, and our meal plans were taking off. I needed space to store enough food,” head chef Fleury explains. “So we started looking for a bigger space, and this place became available.”
Fleury says it wasn’t his original plan to open up a proper dine-in restaurant (“I just wanted a walk-in cooler!”) but eventually he found new partners who wanted to be a part of making Wild Thyme succeed.
Maija Van Uden joined as co-owner, and Fleury’s brother and mother decided to join too, to focus on the dine-in aspect of the business.
Wild Thyme opened in its new location on Sept. 30, and is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The new location also has a very large outdoor dining space, complete with an outdoor bar and gazebo. There are also a couple of private rooms available for events, and Van Uden says they will make the smaller room available for rent as a study room for students preparing for exams.
The menu is eclectic, just like Wild Thyme’s heat and eat meals, spanning everything from sandwiches and tacos to jambalaya. There is a bar, where customers can get craft beer and cocktails. Breakfast is available all day.
Although opening up the restaurant is exciting, Fleury is still focused on their heat and eat meals. “Maija and I are collaborating to really take our heat and eats to the next level,” he says. “Amping up portion sizes, and coming up with keto, gluten free, dairy free, lots of options for different people.”
The new space has ample storage space for fresh produce, Van Uden says, and the kitchen has professional equipment that can handle batch cooking better. “We were pulling off miracles in the old location,” Fleury laughs, “but now we have professional equipment!”
Currently, a lot of their heat and eat clientele are seniors, but Fleury and Van Uden want to accommodate more dietary restrictions so that busy younger professionals and students can eat healthier by using Wild Thyme’s meal plans.
“Everything that we possibly can, comes from local suppliers,” the head chef says. Wild Thyme gets a lot of their meat from the Maltese and European Meats, cheese from Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, and they use local fresh produce when in season. Many of their dishes also incorporate local food products, such as Heartbeat Hot Sauce and Shumka Dust.
Fleury and the team hope to do well over the holiday season, to help them through the leaner months after the New Year. “We can’t wait until spring, to open up our new patio,” he says. “Next year will be exciting!”