Thunder Bay diners will have a new restaurant on the menu come March 14, when Tony Roma's officially opens in the city.
It's a dream come true for owners and operators Gordie and Leena Lem, who are originally from the northwestern Ontario city, but have worked with the chain in Alberta for nearly two decades.
"A vision of ten years coming to life. It's actually exceeded my expectations of what it was going to look like," said managing partner Leena Lem.
The pair has spent years jotting down ideas of how to make the restaurant, which is known for its ribs and steak, unique, and modern.
"The TV in the gentlemen's washroom. Love it. The fireplace in the women's," said Lem, adding they're also using text messaging to let customers know their table is ready.
But she said the couple also wanted to acknowledge their tie to the city, and the area. The host desk at the front of the restaurant is made of rustic pine, and there is a mural of the Sleeping Giant along one wall.
They did bring back a few things from western Canada however. Four of the managers they were working with decided to relocate to Thunder Bay, said Lem.
"I sent a text this morning to all my managers saying I can't begin to express all the emotions that I'm feeling right now... It's been so long we've been waiting for this, and it's at our doorstep."
There are still some lights to install, and a few small projects to finish, but Lem said she is already getting excited to be "unlocking the doors, and letting Thunder Bay in. That's what I'm waiting for."
The new restaurant opens March 14, at 4 p.m. ET in the former Swiss Chalet building at 1043 Memorial Avenue in Thunder Bay.
Since you should always wash your hands before you eat, look at this interesting feature at Tony Roma's