Thunder Bay's Hoito Restaurant could close
The Finlandia's board of directors urges the community to help
Thunder Bay's Finlandia Association is more than $700,000 in debt, its treasurer says, meaning that it –including the landmark Hoito Restaurant – is in danger of closing.
Even though the Hoito is often busy, Saxberg said servicing those loans, and keeping up with the building's taxes and operating costs, swallow up most of the popular restaurant's revenue.
"That's over $60,000 a year that we have to pay to service loans," she said, adding that the association is also behind on payments to its vendors.
"We're scraping by every single month, she said "If there was any kind of a giant snowstorm and the Hoito was closed on a weekend, we wouldn't make payroll, so we are that close."
Upstairs from the restaurant, the building's main hall is an affordable event space for a number of community organizations, including LU Radio. The perilous future of the Finlandia concerns Jason Wellwood, the campus station's manager.
'Make the rallying call'
In the face of dire financial straits, Kelly Saxberg said the board has been proactive in finding solutions, but it still needs the help of "the whole community."
That could mean renting out the hall, or volunteering on the board or at events, Saxberg said, adding that the board has secured funding for a community liaison worker, and hired a new manager at the Hoito. Properties the association owns adjacent to the Labour Temple have also been put up for sale to raise money, she said.
The hall is more active lately than it has been, Saxberg noted, with a variety of events – staffed by volunteers – taking place, but "whether it will be enough, I don't know," she said.
"We just have to really make the rallying call and say, 'yes, we are in trouble, and come out and be active.'"