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Ducky’s Diner continues to evolve

Nipigon restaurant navigates early challenges to become established in the community.

NIPIGON — A lot has changed for Cory Ralke over the last few years.

Shortly after he arrived in Nipigon in 2018, Ralke opened up Ducky’s Diner downtown, though issues out of his control soon led to it being closed.

Then in May 2022, he reopened in a new location off of Highway 11-17, where the diner has been ever since.

“When I look back on everything, I was kind of young and naive so to speak when we started,” Ralke said. “I was like, ‘Oh, let’s open up a restaurant,' but we were kind of learning everything on the fly.

“There was a good connection with the community when the restaurant opened, but there was a lot of learning I had to do in terms of management and the behind-the-scenes stuff.

“Here I am three years later and luckily I have survived all of those humps and bumps, and things are really looking up. The restaurant is busy all of the time and we have a really good following.”

Ducky’s also benefits from the fact their location on the highway allows people from all over to drop in.

“We have our regulars of course, who come in on a daily basis from in town, but once the snow melts you see people from all over Canada and the United States that come in,” Ralke said. “That’s pretty cool.”

When asked how his love for cooking began, Ralke said it started in his hometown of Winnipeg.

“I’ve always had this close relationship with food,” he said. “My grandma was always in the kitchen and I remember pinching perogies when I was three years old."

Ralke said he always dreamed of opening a place called Ducky's Diner.

“I actually still have the original menu I made for Ducky’s Diner back when I was about 14 or so. I like cooking food from scratch and everything here is pretty much homemade.”

Ducky’s Diner specializes in Canadian-American style cuisine.

Their club sandwich – which Ralke describes as “huge” – and railway salad – which is a fried chicken salad with pickles, crispy onions and cucumbers – are among the most popular dishes on the menu.

Ralke is continuing to evolve the restaurant as well.

They are opening up their patio for the first time in three years and an ice cream shop is now set up for the summer.

“It’s all about taking the next steps here,” Ralke said.

Ducky’s Diner is open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

More information on the restaurant can be found on its Facebook page.