SIX NATIONS – The owners of TNT restaurant in Ohsweken are proud of their history, their loyal customers, and the awesome food they continue to serve up for the community.
“We’ve been in business since 1989,” said Bonnie Hill, who is currently overseeing and running the fast-food restaurant in the Ohsweken Village Plaza. “It’s definitely a family business — having been owned by two of my aunts, my mom, and my grandma.”
Right now Bonnie’s mom and dad still own it, but she looks after everything and is set up to take over when they retire.
Bonnie has been around since the beginning. The restaurant started out as an ice cream and sub shop owned by Bonnie’s aunt, Theresa Thomas, and was named TNT for Thomas’ daughters, Tanya and Trisha.
“TNT was named from my aunt’s daughters, but our customers sometimes joke and tell us that it must stand for dynamite food,” said Bonnie. “Because our food is awesome.”
TNT is widely known for their Indian Tacos, which Bonnie thinks they have been making and perfecting since 1991 or 1992. Aside from tacos, the team at TNT also serves: chicken wraps, corn soup, traditional foods, scones, julienne salads, and more.
“Our taco recipe was handed down from my grandma,” said Bonnie. “Our fry-bread, scone, some soups — the recipes were all from her.”
TNT is one of the first fast-food restaurants on the territory.
“We’re definitely not the first restaurant on the reserve, but for sure we are one of the first fast-food restaurants. So we’ve been around long enough to know how to keep the business running during the slower months and to keep our customers happy.”
TNT’s ownership has changed a lot over the years, but one thing that has remained constant is that it’s been family run since the very beginning.
Bonnie’s aunt Theresa owned the business first, and Bonnie worked for her. Then Bonnie’s grandma bought it. After her, Bonnie’s aunt Eva took over. Then Bonnie’s parents bought it around 1999 off of aunt Eva.
“My grandma was getting tired of managing a restaurant and wanted to stop but she didn’t want to see TNT leave the family. That’s when Eva took over. And now it’s my parents who own it and have prepared me to take over.
Bonnie has two brothers, Tom and Steve, and they each have played a large role in the business’ success.
“The three of us also have a catering business that we run out of TNT,” she said. “We take small odd jobs here and there for catering. My brother Tom still helps out a lot and my brother Steve has a tattoo parlour and is very busy with that.”
Bonnie said that her parents help out with the business a lot still too. Her mom comes in the morning and makes a special or helps with food prep. Bonnie said right now she has three full-time staff members and two part-time. Each member of the team is invaluable.
“It was important for me to make sure I had enough dependable staff so my mom and dad could feel safe and confident in the business,” said Bonnie. “They can come and go as they please. In my eyes, they will always own TNT — I just manage all the stresses of a business.”
Bonnie said the biggest challenge of running a restaurant is being unsure of how a new restaurant, or fast-food place will effect TNT.
“Even with the new Tim Hortons, of course we were concerned with that who wouldn’t be?” said Bonnie. “But the thing that I really appreciate about the people of Six Nations is their loyalty. It makes perfect sense for people to be curious and want to check out something new, but I really appreciate that they come back.”
Bonnie said that her customers are super important to them and their satisfaction is vital to the business’ success.
“The restaurant wouldn’t run if it weren’t for my staff and customers,” she said. “What makes us really different is our friendly environment. It’s a family-run business and you can really tell. It’s personable, friendly, and comfortable.”
Bonnie said she purchased all brand-new equipment for the restaurant in the fall and is looking forward to giving the place a small face-lift in the near future.
“Just some small renovations and maybe repainting the walls,” she said. “We want to keep it small but also add some more seating to keep our customers comfortable if we can.”