September 7, 2023
Food services reimagined at Greater Sudbury Airport
Celebrating the opening of the FlySudbury Café are, from the left, Christopher Pollesel, Giovanna Verrilli, Ranjodh Singh, Lakvir Singh Mann, and Dave Paquette. The Singhs are the operators and owners of the café. (Photo: Hugh Kruzel)
— By Hugh Kruzel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
If you are going to board an aircraft and travel the world, then aren’t we lucky to now have an airport restaurant that embraces a global philosophy?
“Sure, we have grilled sandwiches, but butter chicken is loved by everyone and worldwide,” smiles Ranjodh Singh, as he looks at the crowd attending the recent grand op ening. “We both love to eat and cook. We have restaurant experience and my partner and I have worked together before.”
There is a mix of Canadian, Mexican and Indian cuisines that runs the spectrum from Samosas to burgers and fries, but also Quesadillas and Tacos, Lakhvir Singh-Mann notes.
Singh-Mann is the other half of the ownership.
“I know customer service and how to please clients. Fusion is going to work. We are offering Bonn to Bake desserts, and look to having more local products.”
An airport is a unique place to have a restaurant business. The hours are very different. Demands can be a wave and then a lull.
“We will match with the need,” Singh-Mann says. “We do stay open if there are delays. When Air Canada reinstates the third flight, we will adjust our hours of operation. Currently, we are here 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 4 on weekends.”
Matching schedules with early departures – like the Porter 07:15 – means the hours of operation will reflect the needs of passengers and will continue to evolve as flight schedules change over time. The restaurant’s owners have committed to be open during peak flight hours, as well as extending their hours, where feasible, in the event of flight delays and cancellations.
Early morning departure could be a breakfast sandwich or you can order an express breakfast or smoothies.
“I am very proud of the new operators,” says Gurpreet Singh Broca. “They are not relatives, but they are part of my community family. When I came to Sudbury, they fed me and mentored me. They are trailblazers and inspirational. They have shown initiative.
“We are a diverse population in Sudbury now, so why should menus not reflect that mixed demographic now?”
Surveys indicated that restoring food availability has been the most requested amenity, said Giovanna Verrilli, CEO of the Greater Sudbury Airport.
“Yes, the aviation industry is recovering slowly, but we must respond to customers’ needs,” Verrilli said. “Passengers need to have a place to relax, unwind, and dine before their departure.
“It has been some time since we last offered food services here. Three years is a long time. It has been a lot of negotiations to make this day happen. I am very excited.”
And so, too, was everyone else attending the grand opening.
Dave Paquette, chair of the airport board, says opening this venue “is a really good signal to the community. It is time to move forward.”
Christopher Pollesel, manager of passenger experience and customer engagement for the Greater Sudbury Airport, says the COVID-19 pandemic “ultimately changed the entire global aviation landscape” and led to a dramatic reduction in flights and passengers in Sudbury.
“The former restaurant closed shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pollesel said. “As we worked to attract a new restaurant partner, we increased our food selections in our onsite vending machine, as well as invested in a specialized self-serve hot beverage machine, recognizing the importance of food and beverage options for our passengers …
“Of course, this was only intended to be a temporary measure as we worked diligently to find a restaurant partner. As with any restaurant start-up, there was some time needed to prepare for the new venture. One of the benefits that the Greater Sudbury Airport’s restaurant space offers, however, is a completely furnished kitchen and restaurant space, which makes it almost a turn-key restaurant setup.
“Ranjodh and Lakhvir have been terrific restaurant partners to work with and are eager to offer a best-in-class casual airport dining experience.”
The reception and feedback of the new Fly Sudbury Café & Lounge has been positive, Pollesel says.
“The restaurant first opened in July, offering a soft-launch dining experience, where the restaurant had a limited menu and was seeking honest feedback from its patrons to meet the needs of the Greater Sudbury Airport’s travelling public.
“Over the last several weeks, I have sampled almost the entire soft launch menu and it has some great bites to be enjoyed. I look forward to tasting their full menu.”
Looking ahead, Pollesel said the Fly Sudbury Café & Lounge is working to obtain a liquor license, “which is a service offering that our passengers have continued to request.”