THUNDER BAY -- “The inspiration came from Chef Joe; he wanted to create really good food at a really good price, and I said yes to joining him in this adventure,” says Christina Lane, owner of Wild Thyme. A former deli clerk, she opened the takeout restaurant with fiancé Joe Fleury. Alek Wataja joined later on and together, the three operate the small but busy business.
Wild Thyme started as a lunch place in the Victoriaville Mall in 2019. However, the mall’s rigid rules (including fines for closures during regular hours) didn’t work well with the fledgling business and they decided to move.
They found a spot at The Hub Bazaar on Victoria Avenue East, “Thunder Bay’s largest retail business incubator” according to owner Lori Paras. The Hub Bazaar houses many small vendors under its roof, offering new businesses like Wild Thyme a flexible and low-risk location to start and grow their business. Wild Thyme has a kitchen and small eat-in space, and even a window for contactless pickup.
Wild Thyme had been popular with the lunch crowd when it first opened, but the pandemic closed the area’s businesses and left them with no customers. Hard hit but not willing to give up, the team turned to “heat and eat” meals. They take orders until midnight on Mondays and cook for the next two days. The food is vacuum sealed and delivered on Thursdays.
“It’s a lot of fun to see the customers see the product and smile; they love to say hello to Joe and it’s really rewarding to make people happy,” says Lane.
The individually packaged meals last a few weeks in the fridge (or longer in the freezer) and they can be microwaved or warmed up in a pot of boiling water. It’s convenient for elderly people, but students and busy professionals are also regulars.
Wild Thyme also serves coffee and light meals, and customers can grab takeout from Tuesday to Saturday.
The menu is varied and eclectic, spanning everything from pizza to Thai, with vegetarian, vegan and keto options as well. “There’s all kinds of food I love doing and I can never settle on just one thing,” says Fleury. He plans on adding more Asian-inspired dishes to the menu in the coming months.
Future plans include a food truck; they are in the process of getting it ready. “It’ll allow us to open up some nighttime hours. Maybe we can hit the pizza and wings market at nights,” Fleury says.