Sarnia’s Mitton Village has had ups and downs as a local shopping district. At its peak, the area has been a bustling community of shops and eateries, walkable and tight-knit. However, the area is now dotted with vacant storefronts and former institutions with uncertain futures. The creation by city council of an advisory committee may help attract investment, and return the area’s former lustre.
Even now, exciting things are happening in the Village. At 144 Mitton St. S., chef Paresh Thakkar and his team are exploring a world of cuisine, boldly expanding on tradition, and pleasing dinner parties big and small. Personal Touch Eatery & Catering, housed in a small building, boasts bold tastes and exciting experiments.
“I don’t cook the traditionalist’s way,” Thakkar explains, seated in his small eat-in area between preparations for catered events. Having grown up and worked professionally with cooking styles from around the world, Thakkar is completely unafraid to improvise, taking inspiration from the fresh produce he finds at the farmer’s market around the corner.
The menu features a variety of sandwiches and wraps, as well as soups and salads. One of the eatery’s claims to fame is their fresh hummus, prepared daily and always changing. The team at Personal Touch is not interested in keeping things static — innovation is the rule that governs.
This creativity meshes well with a collaborative spirit, and Thakkar is deeply interested in engaging the community around him with his cooking. Aside from buying the bulk of his produce locally, he is always seeking ways to get his food out to the people.
“We’re looking into hosting a barbecue right over there,” he says, pointing across the street to a parking lot. Thakkar looks forward to the revitalization of Mitton Village, and considers good food to be a great method for reaching out and creating strong neighbourhoods. Mitton Village has its fair share of established restaurants, and though Personal Touch is only in its sixth year of operation, the team has endeared themselves to diners of all stripes.
As the name suggests, Personal Touch Eatery & Catering can provide for intimate gatherings, large-scale meetings, and everyone in between. Take, for example, their private dinner parties, which you can enjoy at home or with up to 12 people in the cozy restaurant itself.
“We can accommodate vegan, gluten-free restrictions,” Thakkar notes — and for adventurous foodies, he can take the reins. “We can present you with a ‘trust me’ menu,” he says, a chef-inspired creation that will satisfy while removing the work of ordering for yourself. They are also partnered with Alton Farms Estate Winery this year, catering wine-paired meals on the winery’s patio through the summer months. Add to this a capability for full-sized weddings and corporate events, and you’ll see that Personal Touch has got you covered.
Thakkar takes personal interest in the betterment of his neighbourhood and city. The eatery supports a variety of causes — the Inn of the Good Shepherd, Huron House Boys’ Home’s “Men Who Cook” program, hospice care facilities — and Thakkar has high hopes for the future of Mitton Village.
“There are some good anchors here, but I think there’s room to grow,” Thakkar says. “It’s nice that the city is pushing to make that happen with the [Mitton Village Community Development Advisory] Committee.” If growth can be encouraged and nurtured in the area, Sarnians will have a another business neighbourhood to be proud of. Only a few blocks east of Sarnia’s burgeoning downtown district, Mitton Village may be poised for a renaissance of its own.
Personal Touch Eatery & Catering can be found at 144 Mitton St. S., open 10:30 to 5:30, Tuesday to Friday. Contact Paresh at email@example.com, or by telephone at 519-344-7070, to book private events and catered functions. Find them on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook: @pt_eatery.