When the Thunder Bay Airport Authority wanted to incorporate local food choices into the multimillion-dollar upgrades inside the passenger terminal, they turned to popular caterers, street vendors and chefs Nikos Mantis and Shawna Deagle.
The co-founders of Pinetree Catering opened the Nomad Cafe in the secure departure and arrivals lounge in early December.
Designed as a grab-and-go food service, the cafe is open from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., 365 days a year, offering hearty sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, tasty salads, and scrumptious desserts.
"We're stoked to be an ambassador for Thunder Bay's food scene," said Mantis.
"It's one of the first things visitors see when they arrive and one of the last things they see when they leave, and it's kinda cool to make an impression."
Mantis and Deagle were contacted by consultants hired by airport officials to find a vendor that was representative of the vibrant and eclectic food scene in Thunder Bay.
"It really fit our food philosophy that we have been working and striving toward," he said. "It seemed like a natural progression for us and we were super-excited when we got approached about it."
Mantis and Deagle are also well known as the owners of two business spinoffs, the Local Motion food truck and Sapling Bakery.
Similar to those ventures, the pair places an emphasis on locally sourced and produced ingredients, right down to the roasted coffee beans.
"We have fresh, from-scratch baking, croissants, and pastries coming in every day," said Mantis.
"We brine, cure and smoke our own pastrami and ham for our sandwiches--those seem to be selling well--and we make our own charcuterie plate with cured meats from locally raised animals."
The food is prepared at their commercial catering kitchen and delivered daily to the airport. The menu will change to reflect the best of the local bounty in any given season.