There is a new hospitality group in town — one committed to fitting square patties on round buns.
The brainchild of friends and Collingwood residents Ali Grundman and Tori Holmes Lane, Misfits Hospitality officially launched in July with a mission of offering more versatility to the food and beverage scene in South Georgian Bay.
“It’s the idea of defying the norm and always asking for more,” said Grundman. “The stubbornness of misfits was enticing, and it provided us a space to not worry about fitting in.”
The dynamic duo met while working at another establishment in town, with Holmes Lane at the helm as general manager, and Grundman leading the line in the kitchen as the head chef. They bonded trying to keep the restaurant afloat amid ongoing lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions during the pandemic, and not only did a friendship start to form, but so did an idea.
Holmes Lane, who has a background in the events industry — and even owned her own events company in her early 20s — had always dreamed of opening an establishment of her own. Grundman had already been down that road, having opened Park Bench Dinner in Thornbury during the summer of 2020, so when Holmes Lane approached her to do something together, she was hesitant at first.
“When she told me her idea, right away I was like ‘yes, that sounds dope’ but also my heart and head was telling me to hold on a second,” said Grundman.
Nevertheless, the idea was planted, and it didn’t take long for the idea to turn into a want, and then a need. Both originally from Toronto, they admired the local businesses that were already elevating the food and drink landscape in Collingwood. They wanted to do the same, but on their own terms.
“We solidified what we believe was the precipice of our business relationship and our friendship,” said Grundman. “The puzzle pieces were slowly filling in, and we were surprised by how well it was working.”
The experience was also a great “dress rehearsal” to learn how the two would work together in a fast-paced and stressful environment.
In the spring of 2022, with the last of the COVID-related restrictions dissipating and summer approaching, they knew it was time to make moves. So they quit their jobs and went all in.
“Summer is hot,” said Grundman. “We knew the only way to do this and to test it out while having a little bit of a safety net was if we launched in the summertime.”
Their ultimate goal with Misfits Hospitality is to own multiple establishments as part of a restaurant group one day, but they decided to start small with a food truck and see what they could do with what they had.
“We really wanted to focus on not letting the ‘what ifs’ break us down but if anything, propel us forward,” said Grundman.
They got to work putting their name out there and were surprised by the positive response from the community immediately.
“I didn’t know how involved I was in the community until the reaction happened,” said Grundman. “But we thought, if we build it, people will come. So we decided to hone into that.”
Soon after, they were approached by one of the owners of Still Fields Brewery, offering them a spot in their Summer Food Series over the August long weekend. Grundman and Holmes Lane didn’t have the food truck yet, but they agreed, building out a menu featuring “things on toast,” and their debut weekend was a hit.
They picked up the truck the following week and got right to work transforming it into their new home. That weekend, they held a pop-up at the Collingwood Brewery and this time, their menu featured “things with chips.”
Unlike most food trucks, they don’t have a set menu and instead, have decided they will create the menu based on the type of event they are attending, what they feel like doing, the time of year, and what’s in season.
“Our versatility is what we can contribute to this community,” said Grundman.
They are booked solid for the rest of the summer, bouncing between local breweries and events, and are already looking forward to what the fall will bring.