A Fresh Start: Flavours Café Brings New Options to Hospital Patrons, Staff

The interior of Flavours Café at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC).

Originally published in the September 2023 edition of the Walleye Magazine

If you visit Flavours Café at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) you’ll notice some changes. Post-pandemic, the community was hungry for a fresh start and rejuvenating change. Feedback from hospital staff and other customers encouraged Sodexo, the retail owners of Flavours Café, to breathe new life into the space.

“Our goal was to establish a welcoming environment with food options to suit the tastes of each person,” says Stephanie Rowan, manager of food and nutrition services at TBRHSC and general manager of Sodexo Retail. “Inspired by Sodexo’s Kitchen Works Co., the idea was to combine tasty, balanced food with quick service. It offers an experience that puts guests in control with an easy-to-navigate restaurant design. We also wanted to update the food offerings by incorporating local and Canadian products to the space.”

Stepping into Flavours Café, visitors are greeted with an aura of freshness and tranquility. Fresh herbs from the newly installed ZipGrow indoor garden are available to all and cultivated for use in various dishes, enhancing taste and nutritional value. A feature wall has new digital monitors highlighting a rotating menu, and static menu boards showcase items that can be purchased daily.

Surrounding yourself with healthy options makes it easier to follow Canada’s Food Guide recommendations: eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and protein while limiting highly processed foods with added sodium, sugars, or saturated fats. “With the refresh there are more healthy options available, but we also want to allow our customers to make their own choice based on what their preferences are,” explains Rowan. “We are offering a balance between fresh, healthy, and comfort foods.”

From Asian salmon burgers and fish tacos to poutine and whole-wheat rolls, there is something for everyone to savour. The Seasons Salad and Craft It Deli Bar offers customers a personalized and distinctive dining experience tailored to individual needs and preferences. Additionally, the cafeteria offers a selection of plant-based and vegan options in the spirit of embracing the demand for healthy and sustainable food choices.

A key element of the refresh was the integration of local products and flavours. Flavours Café now proudly hosts a mini local market that offers an array of locally sourced products such as hot sauce, fish batter, pasta, and syrup. The walk-up coffee bar serves an array of flavours from Spirit Bear Coffee Company, an Indigenous-owned company boasting 100% organic and fair trade products. These products have become a beloved addition, adding a unique opportunity to support local and Indigenous-owned businesses.

Flavours Café has witnessed a steady increase in visitors since its refresh in June 2023, and aims to return to full hours by the fall. The 27-year partnership between Sodexo and the hospital reflects the long-standing commitment to providing quality service and nutritious food options. The positive feedback received from staff and visitors after the relaunch was heartening for the team who has contributed to make the project a success.

For more information, visit tbrhsc.net/home/information-services/cafeteria.