Hoito Restaurant Celebrates 100th Birthday!
by Scott A. Sumner
The Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay held a media conference recently launching the activities marking the Hoito restaurant’s 100th birthday.
Paula Haapanen, member of the Finlandia board and president of the Hoito gave a brief overview of its history and its impact on the community.
Haapanen stated that “although it is not the oldest restaurant in Canada or even Ontario, it certainly is a significant milestone to reach 100 years of age and everyone involved in the Hoito is proud to
be a part of this momentous occasion.”
Opened on May 1st, 1918 the Hoito was established to feed hungry bush workers that could find lodging but not a decent meal when they came into Port Arthur. It has been serving affordable, home-cooked meals to residents and visitors in the Bay and Algoma District ever since.The Finlandia and the Hoito have been the home to cooperative and labour movements, and served as the economic anchors of the Bay and Algoma area in the beginning and Finnish businesses started establishing themselves in the area soon afterwards. Some of which included hotels, stores, bakeries and boarding houses, pool rooms, taxi services and of course, sauna.
“We are proud that the building still serves as an anchor of sorts and that the Hoito is both a landmark and an institution of this city” said Haapanen.She continued, saying “we pride ourselves on keeping traditions alive while finding a balance with what is happening in the community at large. It’s not always easy but we are excited by the challenge and rise to it daily.”
Paula Haapanen went on to thank everyone who has played or who continues to play a role in the Hoito’s operations. “Whether you are a customer, a supplier, a partner, an employee, a volunteer or management
– it is your generosity of spirit and belief that has kept this restaurant running for 100 years and we hope that it will continue for 100 more.”
1 May – Launch and birthday cake
- Return of former placemat menu for the month
- El Tres #PancakeHack – Huevos Rancheros
- #HalooHoito – send the Hoito your fondest memories of the restaurant.
We will showcase them at the reunion and throughout the year on social
27 May – Hoito100 Staff Reunion, 3pm to 6pm, Finlandia Hall.
Registration required. Contact
Stephen Beauchemin-Kilborn for more information at
June 2018 - 10 Decades of Hoito, where each week we will be featuring a dish or two from the 10 decades of the past. The first week will feature tasty dishes from the 1910s, the following week will have
something from the 1920s and so on, all the way to the 2010s.Tickets for the Finlandia Goes Foodie dinner will go on sale at the beginning of June. We will also start selling tickets for our Hoito100
Raffle at the end of May. There will be early bird draws in June, August, and September, with the grand prize of a sauna being draw at the Finlandia Goes Foodie Dinner on 5 October 2018. Some of the early
bird prizes include 2 tickets to the Finlandia goes Foodie Dinner, the Hoito After Hours Dinner, and more. Tickets for the raffle will be $20 a piece or 3 for $50.
We will be having new Hoito100 merchandise rolling in over the summer, including mugs, momentos and possibly another run of “Breakfast at the Hoito” so we encourage you to drop in often, for your pancakes, or cabbage rolls or crinkle cut fries, and to see what else we have for you.
October 2018 - 2nd Annual Finlandia Goes Foodie Culinary Festival and we will once again be welcoming Chef Kim Palhus from Finland to help us put this together. This year’s theme of course is Hoito100 and Chef Kim is designing a celebratory menu based on Hoito menus of the past. The
activities will begin during Culture Days at the end of September. We are planning on some demonstration sessions with Confederation College, our exciting Hoito After Hours dinner (which a private dinner for 8 people and a prize of the Hoito100 raffle), and finally the Finlandia
Goes Foodie gala dinner on Friday 5 October at the Finlandia Hall.
Paula Haapanen, member of the Finlandia board and president of the Hoito
“100 years is pretty momentus and we thought we would start by announcing it to the world and offering everyone cake. The building was established in 1910 by Finnish people, part of the labour movement and
people moving west where people got together. People landed here to find jobs and it has been a significant part of our history in Canada acting as an anchor for the community.”
“ It is a testament to how the Finn’s quietly make the way into the community. There are many 2, 3, or 4th generation living here.”
“The Hoito is doing better, we are making our way one pancake at a time. We appreciate our customers patronage and encourage more. We have restructured our staff, changed our prices a little bit- some down and some up, making headway in the type of service and quality of service. One of the favourites was the place mat menu and it is back for people to see.”
“ We want to hear peoples experiences, memories with the hashtag # Hallo Hoito with pictures, videos to show our staff and stories on social media.Maybe someone will put them into a book.”
“The Hoito Pancake is the same as back over 100 years but every chef adds their own magic.”