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Monday Morning "MUG"ing: Pineapple Express brings a new breeze to Algoma (10 photos)

This week’s Monday Morning MUGing takes a look at newly opened Pineapple Express Cafe and Catering.

THUNDER BAY -- There’s a new spot of sunshine on Algoma - Pineapple Express opened its doors on June 8th, introducing exciting versions of your favourite foods.

“Elevated comfort food, elevated munchies - pizza, sushi and tacos,” is what owner and chef Catherine Brophy has to offer. To that end, she has taken these popular foods out of their late-night (and possibly intoxicated) context and brushed them up with South American flair and local and seasonal produce.

Pineapple Express is in where Harri’s Bakery used to be. Fresh out of the Canadian Wine and Food Institute at Niagara College and back in town, Brophy heard that the owners of Harri’s Bakery were looking at retirement. She bought the building and started renovating in February, keeping its quaint charm while adding a tropical breezy vibe.

“Pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality,” she explains, “and I love pineapple. Pineapple express is also a weather system, a tropical storm that goes through Hawaii. I really wanted to have that coastal vibe, because we’re on one of the biggest lakes in the world.”

A Thunder Bay local who started working in restaurants from a young age, she knows our food and cafe scene like the back of her hand.

She used to manage Bean Fiend, helped launch Uptown Cut and most recently, she was manager at the gluten-free Peartree Bakery until it closed down. Gluten-free herself, she understands the importance of having choices available, so she takes care to provide some options on her menu for the gluten-intolerant, vegans and vegetarians.

The menu changes slightly from day to day, depending on what’s fresh and abundant. “I’m working with local purveyors and local producers to work with what’s in season.” She collaborates with Valley Fresh, and her menu reflects whatever fruits and vegetables they have in abundance. “We do that because it’s going to taste the best, and be the most cost-effective.” Certain things you can count on, though - for the summer, she plans on keeping tacos and ceviche on the menu, as well as her 6-bean chili.

Baking is a big part of her business, and her display case usually has some really tempting desserts - unless she has sold out, which happens. “Pies are our signature item and we keep on selling out of them. Right now we have a strawberry rhubarb pie, and that will change with the season.”

While the name of the cafe isn’t directly related to the stoner comedy film of the same name, Brophy doesn’t shy away from the fact that some people make the connection and think it’s funny. She gestures to a plate of large, delectable brownies, perfect with a fudge-like interior and a light, shattering crust. “I’m really pushing brownies because when you think about the movie, and think about the munchies, you’re like, ‘ohh, brownies!’”

For today’s menu, check out Pineapple Express’s Facebook page .