Editor's Note: Fannie's is now under new ownership and with a new name. StJo's Diner is now operating at the same location serving up delicious food. We kept Fannie's story here, for you to enjoy and remind you that dreams do come true! Explore beautiful St. Joseph Island for scenic views, attractions and outdoor activities, and warm Northern hospitality!
Fannie McFadden along with her husband Ken operated their certified organic farm, McFadden Acres near Sault Ste. Marie, from 2006 to 2017. "We embraced homesteading and over the years, we worked hard, learned a lot, and had a very successful organic CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) farm operation," says Fannie. It had been a long-time dream of theirs to have their own "Little House on the Prairie" and life on the farm was good. Then, in 2017, Ken passed away suddenly.
At first, Fannie put the farm property up for sale. She said she knew she wouldn’t be able to run the farm without her husband. After a few deals fell through, she decided to shift her priorities and look for a new opportunity. "I was a foodie, before the farm and my background is in the hospitality, entertainment, and service fields with experience working on cruise ships and in casinos and restaurants," she says. "I say I had the food bug and it evolved from there." Fannie decided to use her foodie knowledge to enter the restaurant industry. She purchased a spot called Mom’s Restaurant at Kent’s Corners on St. Joseph’s Island in November, 2019 and hasn't looked back. "It’s an ideal location, being just minutes from the bridge and on the way to other parts of the island like Hilton Beach and Richards Landing," she says. Plus, the island holds a lot of signifigance for her. "My husband was born here, we got married here, and he’s now resting here." says Fannie.
Fannie kept the farm property, which is just fifteen minutes from the restaurant–the restaurant's garlic and herbs are all sourced from there. The new place wasn't without its challenges however. "Within five days of owning the property, I learned that there would be a deer check station set up at our location," she says. "Instead of having the opportunity to review my newly purchased property and start updating and making changes to the building, I needed to cook and serve food over a 10-day period, during the check station operations. The restaurant was packed with hungry hunters, Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry staff, and Sault college students."
After that, Fannie found she was constantly busy over the winter. Then Covid-19
happened. She took the opportunity to close down for 7 weeks in order to make
the changes she wanted to make when she first purchased the business.
"In addition to serving food in the dining room, we also have a take-out service.
For the menu, I needed to find what would work for take-out. We also offer
frozen meals, including our own baking and fresh salads."
Some of the menu and daily special items include:
- Mac 'n' Cheese with Bolognese sauce
- Chicken Parmigiana with Fettuccine
- Caesar Salad & Garlic Bread
- Big Daddy Burger with Fries
- Fish and Chips and Fresh Salad
- Broccoli & Bacon Quiche
- All Vegetarian Kale & Mushrooms with Old Cheddar Cheese Quiche
- Chinese takeout
- Chicken Souvlaki with Greek Salad and Naan Chips & Tzatziki Sauce
Baked goods available for pickup include freshly baked pies, cinnamon buns, cheese sticks, and bread.
“We source from Algoma, Ontario, and Canada," she says. "Valley Field Farm, one of our local farms is supplying me with fresh produce." With Fannie’s farming experience, she knows exactly what she wants and what to look for, and she understands the hard work and effort that goes into producing the food she serves. It’s important for her to emphasize homemade, country, quality, and local, she says. “This is my niche.”
Fannie is excited to open up her dining room to customers and her property to events when it's safe to do so. With five acres, there's a lot of opportunity for concerts, special events, and BBQs. She's already built a fire pit out front and there's an outdoor patio all ready to go. “Before Covid we had musicians playing in the restaurant and I can’t wait to invite them back.”
In addition to the restaurant, Fannie's offers a small general store where customers can pick up “Grab and Go” dinners, fresh takeout, and bakery items. As well, Fannie’s provides refreshments and products from The Cultured Club, maple syrup from Rose Valley and Gilbertson’s, milk from Lock City Dairies, and beer from Outspoken Brewing.