The Outsiders, a new restaurant that caters to the late-night crowd, was launched by three international students in November last year.
Abu Hena Mostofa Kamal, Souvik Mukherjee and Mohammad Faisal met in Thunder Bay after moving here to study. Kamal and Faisal are from Bangladesh and Mukherjee is from India, but the three have bonded over their common mother tongue, Bengali.
The young entrepreneurs had no restaurant experience before moving to Canada, but Kamal and Faisal found jobs in chain restaurants in Thunder Bay. Then, after Kamal started working at the local Apple Chipotle restaurant on Court Street, the opportunity to open their own restaurant arose.
The three thought there might be a niche to fill, late at night when local restaurants are closed. Apple Chipotle owners have agreed to let the trio use the kitchen after hours. “They were great to deal with, and they are mentors and guides throughout the process, helping us,” Kamal says gratefully.
The Outsiders, located at 42 Court Street South (inside Apple Chipotle) is a take-out-only restaurant open Friday through Sunday until 2 a.m. get a midnight craving are all on the menu.”
Their top-selling burger is the Juicy Lucy, popular in Minneapolis, south of the border. Unlike a traditional cheeseburger, the Juicy Lucy has cheese in the patty rather than on top. The Outsiders Dirty Bird Chicken Sandwich is also a customer favorite.
Inspiration for their menu often comes from outside of Thunder Bay, but the three add their own twist, they say. They also try to source local ingredients whenever possible, ordering their meat from George’s Market, buns from Roma Bakery and cheese curds from Thunder Oak Cheese Farm.
“We try to work with local businesses and other entrepreneurs,” says Kamal. “We believe in growing together.”
Some partnerships include Narrow Gate Foods, which created an exclusive flavor, Peach and Pineapple Kombucha, for the Outsiders, and Shumka Dust, which created a new spice blend, the Outsiders Inferno.
“In summer, we will try to have more local vegetables,” adds Kamal.
It’s been a busy four months since the trio launched The Outsiders. “It’s literally a ‘big’ three-person team,” says Mukherjee, “we do everything from groceries to dishes.”
He has a full-time job during the day, while the other two are still studying; Kamal is studying Business Marketing at Confederation College while Faisal is pursuing his Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree at Lakehead University.
Thunder Bay has a very strong community, says Mukherjee, which encouraged them to embark on their culinary journey. “When we started this, we received an overwhelming response from the people of the City of Thunder Bay,” he acknowledges.
“All three of us have no intention of leaving this city, because this city has given us a lot. We just feel it’s time for us to give back to the Thunder Bay community what we got from them. Try to contribute to the community,” he adds.
The three hope that as pandemic restrictions are lifted, people will come together more, as their food is perfect for parties. “We want to be part of their party,” says Mukherjee.
“We are strangers. We are not from Canada. But it’s not just us; everyone is a stranger in one way or another,” he says. “An inclusive community is what we believe in. We want to reach out to all the strangers that are out there and make them insiders. And we want to be insiders in this country, this city too.