By Emily Stonehouse
The landscape of Haliburton County restaurants is changing.
Mathew Renda of Boshkung Brewing Co. and Mike Rae of Truss Foodworks Inc. have joined forces to become the new co-owners of the businesses, bolstering a new era of hospitality for the communities in the region.
“There are not many companies that spread across the county the same way we do,” said Renda, as he and Rae sat down by the fire at the Boshkung Social location in Minden. “And we want to represent Haliburton County well.”
The two friends met in early 2020, when Renda was working for Fenelon Falls Brewing Co., and Rae was the chef at a camp. “I wanted to find a way to cook with beer,” laughed Rae, saying that he was eager to start experimenting with different ways to present smoked foods. “I reached out to a few nearby breweries, and Renda got back to me right away.”
What started as a business partnership quickly evolved into a friendship, with the colleagues spending every Sunday together sampling beers, and swapping stories.
By 2021, Renda was in the process of moving onto a new chapter, and announced he was leaving Fenelon for a management role at Boshkung. Upon the announcement, he immediately reached out to Rae, to see if he would be interested in offering food at the new location on a weekly basis.
“I came up to Minden one time,” said Rae, “and that was all it took. I was sold.”
The business partners continued to work hand in hand to establish new, different, and unique food and drink offerings for the county, while simultaneously working independently to grow their brand. Rae formalized a partnership with Haliburton Forest, which he opened as Truss Foodworks at their Kennisis Lake location, and continues to operate as a full restaurant.
As Rae put efforts into developing the brand of Truss, Renda was working behind the scenes to establish Boshkung in Haliburton County and beyond. “We have only been around for nine years,” said Renda, “but breweries and restaurants are community hubs, and we wanted to really create that vibe so everyone knew who we were.”
Renda worked his way up the ladder at Boshkung, until one day, an opportunity came up for ownership. And not just ownership of Boshkung, but for the chance to formally join forces with Truss to create a uniform and aligned vision for the future of hospitality in the community. “It was a no brainer” said Rae, in reference to the decision to formally collaborate.
On Oct. 17, the partnership and new ownership was made official, with a new menu at what is now called “Boshkung Smokehouse,” new renovations, and a slightly new look. “The whole point of the merge is to have everything the same,” said Renda, “We want to really establish our brand not just in Haliburton County, but beyond that as well.”
The friends noted that while they aren’t the youngest in the brewery scene, they are amongst the youngest in the restaurant sector in the region; a responsibility they do not take lightly. “We want to draw people to our county with the brand,” said Rae, “and in order to do that, we need to have this vibe where everyone is welcome, and it’s just a fun place to be,” added Renda.
While the duo hail originally from the GTA region, they both note that Haliburton County is home to them now, “Life in Haliburton is really just closer to what life is really supposed to be all about,” said Rae. “I love the beauty of it,” said Renda, “and even when it’s busy, it’s hard to feel stressed out here.”