The Friends of Mount Sima Society is hoping its revamped cafeteria and lounge menus will encourage patrons to buy more food during breaks from the slopes this winter.
Martha Taylor, the ski hill’s food and beverage manager, says that improvements made to the ski hill’s eateries – the cafeteria, Last Run Lounge and Summit Cafe – address a lot of the key issues that kept coming up last year, such as slow food preparation and a lack of healthy options.
“Last year it was all one, big menu,” she said.
“It seemed pretty slow. So we decided to split the menu into two categories: grab ‘n go and worth the wait.
“People are often bringing their lunches so we’re trying to coax a few of them to eat on site this winter.”
Some grab ‘n go items will include soups, pastas, stews and sandwiches. For patrons who aren’t in a hurry, they can order burgers, fries, poutine and other traditional fast food that take a bit longer to prepare.
Taylor said fries and poutine were by far the most popular foods last year.
Daily and weekend specials that might fall in either category, such as paninis, are bound to make an appearance on the menu, she added.
“I’ve got a panini press on my Christmas wish list right now, but we’ll wait and see how things go for the first few weeks,” she said.
Taylor said she also heard that people wanted more vegetarian options. Expect separate curries and chilis to be made with different flavours and ingredients.
“Everything is made from scratch,” Taylor said, “and there’s going to be a learning curve that goes along with that.”
“We’ll see with the amount of preparation time whether we can pull it off. We’ll get rid of stuff that doesn’t work out.”
At this year’s annual general meeting, the society revealed that the food and beverage arm of the business suffered a shortfall of about $42,500 last winter. Approximately $135,000 was made in sales, while $92,421 was spent on concession and lounge-related costs.
When you factor in wages specific to food and beverages, the society lost money, said general manager Cindy Chandler.
“Food and beverage should have given us at least a 20 per cent margin,” she said at the time.
“We had staff turnover and inexperience. This year we have improved on the business skills required to run the food service.”
It was one of the areas they really wanted to tighten up this year.
“We want to create reasons for the community to keep visiting us,” said Chandler, “and that package includes good, tasty homemade food, healthy choices, fun events and great grooming,” she said this week.
Taylor’s past experience running a local tourism company and preparing food for all the guests should come in handy this winter.
She’ll be helping the staff of three take care of orders in the cafeteria during its busiest hours.
At the top of hill, snacks will be available at the Summit Cafe, opening on Dec. 20.
The heated cabin, normally used as a shelter for the ski patrol, will be staffed and will offer hot chocolates, coffee and various baked goods.
“We figured since we heat it we might as well use it,” Taylor said.
“There’s no running water or electricity but we managed to hook it up to a generator. We’ll be hauling the food up there on the chairlift and if it gets enough usage, we’ll start bringing sandwiches up.”
But if you just want to warm your toes by the wood stove or use the picnic tables, that works too.
When the ski hill closes and the lifts shut down, operations switch upstairs to the Last Run Lounge.
Taylor said traditional pub fare such as wings and nachos will be available, but she’s also going to experiment with bruschetta and hot dips.
She said she’s “wildly optimistic” about the changes but admits they’re a bit daunting.
What if 300 people suddenly want lunch?
“In my head I know how I want this to turn out, but I have the pre-race jitters,” she said.
“When my husband and I wrapped up the tourism company a few years ago, it’s one of the things that I missed the most.
“When all I had to do was just be in the kitchen and crank out food for all our guests, that was really fun.”
The hill will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this winter.
Beginning in March, it’ll be open on Thursdays, too.
The new ski season begins today.
Contact Myles Dolphin at