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New restaurant fulfills a goal for owner

Ambrosia Family Restaurant officially opens Friday in Manitouwadge.

MANITOUWADGE – Danielle Paananen has always dreamed of owning a restaurant.

She’ll get to do that on Friday as Ambrosia Family Restaurant officially opens its doors in Manitouwadge.

“It’s been a lot to try and juggle everything for the last month or so but it’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager,” Paananen said.

“It’s a pretty fantastic feeling to actually be able to do this finally.”

Paananen has been working in restaurants off and on since she was in high school in Manitouwadge.

The opportunity to own a restaurant came about earlier this year when Audrey's, which was located in the building that Ambrosia now occupies, went up for sale.

“It all came together super quick,” Paananen said.

“I went and talked to the owners, who had been looking to retire for a couple of years now, and they told me that the second I wanted it, it was mine.

“The actual words they used were, ‘We’ll let you have it tomorrow if it was possible.’”

Paananen officially took over the building on Canada Day and has been busy getting things ready for the grand opening.

She also said the name of the restaurant has two meanings.

“Ambrosia translates (from ancient Greek) to the food of the good or something pleasing in regards to taste and smell, so it was kind of perfect and fitting in that sense,” Paananen said.

“It’s also got a bit of an inside joke sort of thing for my fiancé and I. There’s a long story that goes with it, but it resulted in an ambrosia fruit salad being spilled all over my basement.”

The menu at Ambrosia will feature many of the favourite dishes from Audrey’s, such as salmon, liver and onions and chicken parmesan – but will also include new salads, pizzas and burgers.

“We’ll also have a full breakfast menu that we are adding and a lot of our daily specials are going to be off menu,” Paananen said.

“That’ll give me the opportunity to try some new dishes that I would like to put on the menu, but I just want to make sure that they are things that people will enjoy before I make them a permanent option.”

While the last few weeks have been hectic, Paananen is excited to get things started.

“It’s really busy right now, especially since I’ve got three kids, but they are looking forward to helping out and also getting some extra spending money,” she said with a laugh.

“I’m honestly looking forward to all of it though. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

Ambrosia Family Restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The Sunday hours are currently temporary until more staff members are added, which will then lead to the eatery being open for supper service.

More information on the restaurant and the latest daily specials can be found on Ambrosia’s Facebook page.

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