Home Cooking Provides A Sensory Treat At Gloria's Restaurant in Sudbury, Ontario.
469 Bouchard St, Sudbury, ON P3E 2K8
When you step into Gloria's Restaurant in Sudbury, Ontario, the sensory treat starts at the door. Home cooking and lots of it.
A friendly, family owned restaurant awash with conversations. Friendly patron talk mingles with the aroma of freshly cooked meals, pies, and pastries.
Gloria’s Restaurant is a labor of love for a family that has restaurant expertise deep in their generational DNA.
Take the current owner and proud Red Seal graduate chef Bruno Michel, who with his wife Jennifer keeps the lights on from 6 am to 9 pm. They work a long day, so Sudburians and visitors have a place to call home for a home cooked meal.
"We make everything here from scratch, and that makes all the difference in our menu. Especially over those big chain restaurants that warm up prepared meal packages. Not us. We make our salads, cook our potatoes and vegetables in our kitchen for every meal, says Bruno."
Bruno adds that the majority of the pies and pastries offered each day are handmade in his kitchen. "Cooking everything from scratch adds a lot of work and labor to everything we do, but for our customers, it is worth it",
Every day, Gloria’s Restaurant slaps 30 lbs of bacon on the grill and more on the weekend for their popular breakfasts. Cooking the bacon kicks off the popular menu item Number 2, egg and meat choice breakfast for the regulars, as well as the visitors. Some of the regulars have been coming into Gloria's for more than 30 years, and they span two generations of Michel family operators.
Prior to Bruno taking over the soup ladle and pastry ovens in 1996, his brother operated the family owned restaurant. Bruno's brother had taken over from their father, who took over from his sister Gloria. Gloria started the restaurant in 1952. Then Gloria married a local Sudbury miner and moved to Elliot Lake in 1958. Gloria decided to sell to her brother and move with her husband.
"As far as current challenges to our business, there are more chain restaurants opening up in Sudbury to serve the same market. The competition for the same dollar is fierce here.
“We are a 98% make-from-scratch-restaurant. Our customers expect home styled cooking from us, and that makes us different from all the chain restaurants in Sudbury." In 2012, Gloria’s Restaurant celebrated 60 years of being in business. Their celebration included a special section in the local newspaper recounting their business success story of the past 60 years. The supplement is available to read by clicking here.
Bruno says that when he took over the restaurant from his brother, who went on to become a Home Hardware Manager, he could not boil water.
“I wanted to be the best possible operator and cook for my customers, so I put myself through the Cambrian Culinary School ( now closed ). I did earn my Red Seal designation, which is the highest government approved achievement for a Chef.
I asked my mother, whose heritage is French, to bring in her family recipes for Sugar Pie, Strawberry-Rhubarb, and Apple pies. She taught me how to make and bake them. Today, our pies and pastries are one of our most popular attractions with our local customers. Our customers notice and appreciate the difference in taste and texture that baking a from-scratch pie provides."
Bruno spends much of his spare time keeping an eye on current prices of his ingredients.
“Our biggest challenge is the cost of products we use, and constantly changing prices for what we buy”, says Bruno.
"Today, any operator has to be vigilant on the price of everything they buy. Operators can no longer afford to not change their menu prices to reflect their increased costs. If you don’t check prices and reprice your menu, then you will fail." says Bruno.
"I spend a lot of my time monitoring costs and being aware of the pricing and how it impacts my menus. You have to be price conscious if you want to be successful in a restaurant today".
“I was one of the first to join UNIPCO because of the power it provides to me in buying power as an independent. I am surrounded by restaurant chains and their buying power as competitors. Belonging to UNIPCO provides me with an advantage with the rebates I earn. UNIPCO has made a big difference in our business".
Bruno is proud of the fact that he does not own a cell phone, nor is he a big fan of technology, in general, but he sees the value in social media.
"I have a manager doing social media for us. We are on all the platforms, and she puts a lot of time into it. It works well for us in keeping our customers informed. Social media plays a big role in our success today as operators. We use promotions and coupons and make sure we have a positive image on social media”, says Bruno.
Bruno’s other challenge is finding trained cooks and chefs as more competitors open kitchens. "The local pool of talent becomes tighter. The closure of the local culinary school means that there is no new trained cook staff available, and that is a real problem for us".
The other problem for Bruno to overcome is the up and down of Sudbury’s local economy. The price of nickel determines whether mines are expanding production or doing maintenance. They wait for a change on the global commodity price of nickel. The price has to be above $6.50 or approaching $7.00 on the global market for residents to feel confident enough to eat out.
Regardless of global economics, Bruno sometimes puts in seven days a week shifts in the kitchen. He says he does so because he loves to cook, and Sudburians love to eat.
My customers love what I prepare. I have a special Chef’s offer of "would you like a home made piece of pie that my mother taught me how to bake. Get’s them every time", says Bruno.