Pancakes made for Hoito

·3 min read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — There’s no better way to raise funds for the rebuilding of the Hoito restaurant than serving up Hoito pancakes.

That’s what the Lakehead Rotary club and the Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA) will do on June 18.

Gail Brescia, director of Lakehead Rotary, says the Pop-Up Pancake Breakfast will be the first in a series if the event is successful.

“We know how much everybody misses their Finn pancakes from Hoito,” she said. “It is going to be a picnic so hopefully the weather is going to co-operate and people will be able to enjoy a summer morning out in the parking lot at the RFDA. If it’s raining it’ll be a total takeout breakfast but we are certainly hoping people will stay and dine outside with the picnic and enjoy their pancakes and sausages or bacon.”

Saku Pinta, who is a member of the Finlandia Co-operative of Thunder Bay, is deeply rooted in the history of the Hoito restaurant as a former cook, following in the footsteps of his mother who was the Hoito’s head cook.

Pinta will be in the RFDA kitchen whipping up the secret pancake mix with Paula Haapanen, the co-operative’s president, along with other co-operative members.

“It’s through (Saku Pinta’s mother) that the recipe got passed down through him and on to us,” Haapanen said. “He’s going to be making sure that those pancakes come out all looking like they should.”

Haapanen says the RFDA is an organization that serves the community and they felt that this was a project that they could get behind.

“They approached us with the opportunity and we gladly accepted,” she said.

“Every little bit counts as far as fundraising is concerned. When the Finnish Labour Temple burned down (in December, 2021), a lot of the equipment that was already going to be made available to us to run the restaurant was destroyed. Putting together or starting a restaurant when you have equipment in place is less expensive than starting a restaurant where you have to purchase and put everything in place. So we’re really grateful that the community continues to support the endeavour.”

With multiple fundraising endeavours around the Hoito, things could get confusing so she put things into perspective. Brad McKinnon, BK Realty Development contractor and owner of the Finnish Labour Temple, is raising funds through the sale of the original bricks with a stencilled replica of the building’s historic facade and dateline, which are available at the Finnish Book Store for $25. Packages of traditional Hoito pancake mix and Kiitos Blend coffee are also available at the bookstore and will be on site with the bricks, T-shirts, mugs and other items at the breakfast. A coffee table book that is currently being compiled will be available later this year.

Volker Kromm, executive director of the RFDA, says the Hoito is nostalgic for his family.

“That was my first restaurant we visited when my wife Gale and I came to Thunder Bay in 1976,” he said. “We just had a baby and we took the baby out, and this was our first treat. Of course, we went for Finnish pancakes and all we could afford was breakfast.”

Tickets for the Pop-Up Pancake Breakfast in support of the Hoito must be ordered in advance. They are available through the Lakehead Rotary Facebook site or through the Eventbrite website.

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

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