Hermie Baldado is living out her dream of owning a restaurant and serving meals daily to members of her community.
The native of the Philippines moved to Toronto back in 2008 to pursue her dream, but she wasn’t confident then that it would pan out.
“It’s always been my dream, but it’s not something I thought I could ever have in Canada because my cooking isn’t traditional food here,” Baldado said.
While living in Toronto, Baldado met her husband, Chris Suckling, who helped give her the confidence to pursue opening a restaurant.
“I was hesitant at first because I was afraid of the unknown, I didn’t know what would happen,” she said.
“But Chris kept telling me that if I don’t do it then, maybe after a few years, I will regret it and always think that I should have done it.”
After years of searching, Baldado was unsuccessful in trying to find the right place to start her business. In 2019, she and her husband moved north to Orillia to seize the opportunity of owning a diner on West Street South.
“I was nervous because I had no experience working in a restaurant, but it was my dream ever since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to serve food, and this was my opportunity to make it happen,” Baldado said.
When the doors first opened at Hermie’s Diner in the Willow Court Plaza at the intersection of West Street South and Highway 12, things did not go as planned, Baldado recalls.
“When we first opened, I was just learning and there were some complaints about the food, but I would try to take the complaint and learn from it to improve,” she said.
“It was a slow process, but I’ve improved a lot. Sometimes, I still feel upset when I hear complaints of the food taking too long or things like that, but negative feedback is very seldom.”
Now, Hermie’s Diner is a staple of the Orillia community - especially to many seniors who gather at the restaurant on a weekly basis.
“Now most of the feedback is from people who say they like my cooking which makes me feel accomplished. It makes me feel good to make people happy,” Baldado said.
The restaurant has become popular for its breakfast specials, sandwiches, homemade burgers and Filipino dishes.
Now that the restaurant is trending in the right direction Baldado has her sights on continuing her success out of town.
“If I get a chance, I would like to get another restaurant in another location. I’m ready to face more challenges that will help me grow,” she said.
While the 51-year-old has the goal of expanding her business, she has no plans on leaving Orillia.
“I like Orillia because the people are friendly, it’s very peaceful, and I feel accepted here,” she said.
“The community really rallied around us during the pandemic and showed us an unbelievable amount of support. We are so lucky to be here in this community.”
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