Establishment finds its niche

Thunder Bay, Ont. — Jill McLeod, owner of 61 Beauty Bar, recognized an opportunity to repurpose the adjacent former Robins Donuts space on Highway 61, to fill what she called a “need” in the Neebing community. Together with her business partners Jennifer Pichette, Ashley Aitken, and husband Mark McLeod, the group opened their new establishment, calling it Bean and Olive. “I’ve seen Robins in there and then I’ve seen the next coffee shop go in and I live in the area so I felt I knew what the area needed,” said McLeod, who has since relocated the beauty bar. “All we basically have here is the Neebing Roadhouse and then Nor’Wester Hotel.” McLeod says it was just a matter of being in the area and finding a niche for what would work out there. “We wanted to keep the coffee aspect and make it a little more high-end where people can get the kinds of things you’re going to at Dolce Coffee House or all the other nice places that are scattered through (Thunder Bay),” she said. “Then we wanted to have a little martini bar as well, hence the name, Bean and Olive.” McLeod says the focus of the business is to feature local food producers and makers throughout the menu. Their coffee is provided by First Response Coffee Company, which is operated by a Thunder Bay police officer. “We do drip coffee and then we also do specialty espresso, macchiatos, cappuccinos, lattes, all those fun things,” she said. “We have our sourced-out baker, Novi’s Bread and Sweets, which provides us with our baking along with pastries from Yums by Crumbs. We also have Cutie Pies out of Manitouwadge, which provides us with small homemade hand pies.” The specialty coffee and a variety of pastries are served throughout the day, and at lunchtime Coppin Road Catering fills up their Go Fridge with take-and-go sandwiches, salads, rice bowls and charcuterie cups. As the day winds down they serve local beers, Crafty Elk seltzers and coolers and nine varieties of martinis from their licensed martini bar. “We also serve a couple brands of red wine, white wine and Prosecco wines,” McLeod added. “It’s a very limited bar and mostly provided as a martini bar.” Bean and Olive opened to the public on Aug. 15 and remains open daily, seven days a week.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal