Thursday, September 12, 2013

Defunct Chain Restaurants in Winnipeg

Mr. Steak circa 1970s
Winnipeg has many restaurants local and chain over the years. We have seen some local institutions hang up the aprons in recent years.

But what of the chain restaurants?

In the 1970s, we had Mr. Steak which gave Winnipeggers a first taste of a chain restaurant steakhouse. The location on Pembina Highway beyond the University of Manitoba seemed like one of the last stops before the end of town.

During the heyday of the Winnipeg Jets, Chi-Chi's at Polo Park used to pack them in. A few locations graced the city but fell one by one over the years. Chi Chi's and Finger's stood where Silver City theatres now stand in the mall parking lot.

The Country Kitchen restaurant was all over the city of Winnipeg. Even when others disappeared across North America, the one on Queen Elizabeth Way kept ticking along. Eventually prolonged bridge construction work killed it off. Want to know where the last Country Kitchen in Canada is: Winkler.

Country Kitchen in Heartland Inn, Winkler
Winnipeg had both Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses in Winnipeg. In the 1980s, Ponderosa retreated from the Canadian market and many locations in Canada were converted to Red Lobster. Bonanza closed their last restaurants in Winnipeg in the 1990s.

Harvey's, a large Canadian chain, has tried to crack the Winnipeg market a few times. It had a location on Pembina Highway, some in Home Depots and the airport. All are closed now.

Longhorn's Texas Steakhouse gave it a go on Leila but they didn't do enough to redecorate and even had the old Branigan's frosted class in place with a B on it after they opened.

Pete and Marty's was a franchise that closed in Polo Park and is where Moxie's is now. Mr. Greenjean's was an old favourite in Eaton Place, now occupied by  Boston Pizza.

A few Winnipeg franchise restaurants have failed after many years in business. As just mentioned above Branigans used to have locations all over the city and even had one in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Grape's was around for decades but alas, they are all gone now. Schmecker's used to have a few locations. Papa George's closed their last location this year. Grubee's was Winnipeg's attempt to create a burger chair to compete with the McDonald's of the world. Several locations closed back in the 1970s.

Mayor's Katz's Hu's Restaurants are all closed now.

In recent years, we have seen the slow retreat of KFC from Winnipeg. Quizno's has started closing places. Kelsey's had two locations shut the same day.

I am sure I have forgotten some of the chains that have closed. Some will say we are better off but many places were family favourites.

Edit: Just been reminded that Harvey's has returned and opposite the University of Winnipeg. And also at the airport?

Also Mother's Pizza with two locations on Regent and Pembina Highway. A mainstay in the 1980s till they dashed back to Ontario.

Just remembered Chuck-E-Cheese on Pembina Highway and Fuddrucker's on St. James near Polo Park. If my recollection is correct, it was owned by some Winnipeg Jets.

71 comments:

Shaun M. Wheeler said...

I miss Uncle Willy's Buffet.

Anonymous said...

Mojo potatoes at Shakee'e were the best! Still miss them. They even had a place in Grand Forks for a while.

The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

I worked at Mothers, they opened August 1979 at 2200 mcPhillips and didn't last long. Good product, lousy management, terrible ad themes. Also, you forgot about Kenny Rogers Roasters. Terrible product IMO.

Anonymous said...

How about Gondola Pizza?

John Dobbin said...

Neat! I had no idea you worked at one. The Pembina location lasted a few years at least.

I vaguely remembered Kenny Rogers Roasters. Where was it?

And did we not have a Don Cherry's as well?

Unknown said...

Kenny was south side of Nairn/Regent a block before Lag - web cafe also failed there

Anonymous said...

I for one miss The Great Canadian Bagel Company. I remember a time when every neighbourhood in the city had them, then they disappeared as fast as they came. Where else could you get a chocolate chip bagel topped with strawberry cream cheese for a snack?

John Dobbin said...

I just added Chuck-E-Cheese and Fuddrucker's as well.

Jesse T said...

Kenny Roger's Roasters is now the Big and Tall Clothing shop across from Advance on Portage.

The Fuddruckers was located where Smitty's is now on St.James.

Harvey's is in the Airport on the arrivals level. It is also going into the old Chicken Delight location on Corydon.

I would also add the slow demise of Pizza Hut, Arby's down to three locations (2 mall, 1 restaurant), Country Style Donuts exodus and Earl's finally shutting down that horrible location on Pembina this past spring.

Anonymous said...

Kenny Rogers was short lived in the old A&W location on Portage Avenue...now a big & tall store.
What was the name of the cowboy themed restaurant where hooters is now on st. Matthews ave?

Glenn O said...

You could add Shakey's, Juniors, Great Canadian Bagel, Robin's Donuts(on life support)

Anonymous said...

I'm also thinking of Shakey's Pizza and Country Style Donuts.

Bob Russell said...

I am trying to recall where the old Butcher Block restaurant was.... someone said Donald and York but I can't recall it being there....not saying it wasn't..just a poor memory of it. Was a staple place for dinners out in the mid-late 70's for me....I don't think it was a chain restaurant but perhaps you or someone recalls it.

Bob Russell said...

I am trying to recall where the old Butcher Block restaurant was.... someone said Donald and York but I can't recall it being there....not saying it wasn't..just a poor memory of it. Was a staple place for dinners out in the mid-late 70's for me....I don't think it was a chain restaurant but perhaps you or someone recalls it.

Bob Russell said...

I am trying to recall where the old Butcher Block restaurant was.... someone said Donald and York but I can't recall it being there....not saying it wasn't..just a poor memory of it. Was a staple place for dinners out in the mid-late 70's for me....I don't think it was a chain restaurant but perhaps you or someone recalls it.

Gail said...

I sure miss Shakey's..we always went there when our kids were small..like 40 yrs. ago..lol..looove those MoJo's!!!..thx for he memories..Gail

Glen said...

Harvey's now has locations on Portage Ave, and in the airport. They may have others.

Kenny Rogers Roasters used to be in Nairn Ave, which is now Chicken Chef. 7-Eleven is across the street.

Glen said...

I haven't seen a retreat of any kind from KFC...I don't believe any closed.

But a number of Wendy's locations have closed in the last 10 years. Pizza Hut as well.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to remember the name of the steakhouse restaurants at the corner of st James street and st matthews where the Hooters is now. My husband and I went for our first date ther thirty five years ago

Anonymous said...

You can also add Uncle Willy's: one on Fermor and one on McPhillips!

Bob Russell said...

I seem to recall a Butcher Block on Pembina Hwy as well around where the interchange is with Bishop Grandin...but cannot picture it in my head....

coryb said...

Mother's also had a location near St Vital mall.

Kelsey's also closed their only other Winnipeg location to make way for Finn's.

Pizza Place is another local chain that was everywhere then disappeared.

East Side Marios, a big chain out east failed here after trying several locations including Madison Square and Gio's final location.

Country Time, Coffee Time and Robins have all tried to make inroads into the Winnipeg coffee and donut business only to be seen retreating.

At one time Winnipeg was also home to three Red Lobsters. With Leila and Pembina both now closed Polo Park is left as the only outlet.

More recently Wendy's has been making a retreat from the market leaving closed building behind in just about every corner of the city.

The most notable one is that Boston Pizza famously opened in Winnipeg in the pizza boom time of the 80s only to make a complete retreat from this market. We went a good ten years with no Boston Pizza even with a Brandon location remaining open before the current success launch here. For bonus points: the current Boston Pizza is the exactly same location as where Mother's Pizza was back in the 1980s so the idea wasn't necessarily out of place there.

Anonymous said...

There was a hotdog place in 1976-77 where St Mary's meets River Road. The wieners' skin popped when you bit into them. Mr. Mustard? Something like that.

Anonymous said...

merq's on portage

Anonymous said...

Tim Horton's on Dakota across from St Vital was a Blimpies some years ago. Dunkin Donuts was here for a time on Graham & Kennedy or Edmonton. Would love to read and reminisce about local faves like G Willakers, Trapper Johns, Garden Creperie et al!

mike maskell said...

There was a fast food BBQ place on Notre Dame and McPhillips back in the 1980's. For the life of me I cannot recall the name of the place. Any idea?

John said...

What was the name of the slightly upscale Italian restaurant on the ground floor of Eaton Place in the late 90s?

John Dobbin said...

I think you mean Pasta la Vista at Eaton Place.

John Dobbin said...

Notre Dame and McPhillips? Grubee's

John said...

That's totally it!

Darcy McVarish said...

Anyone remember a Don cherry's one the corner of 59 and regent?

Darcy McVarish said...

Anyone remember the Don Cheery's on 59 & Regent. Where the current Moxies is?

Unknown said...

How about jim's fish and chips in the viscount gort.

Gordo said...

Anyone remember the name of the really quirky restaurant that was at 588 Broadway in the 1990a? It's where Wasabi is currently located.

Anonymous said...

There was a bonanza at one point, but that might have been where Silver City is

Anonymous said...

I remember Venice House, beside the Marion Hotel (sort of), before it burned down. Portage place mall used to have Great Canadian Bagel, Baskin Robins, Partners delicatessen, Branigans. The Beefeater on Sherbrooke and Osborne. The Dairy Maid on Osborne as well. Bonanza in St. James. Country Style Donuts was in the Village as well. Edohei on Ellice closed a few years back. Mother Tucker's on Donald. Garbanzos used to be a little more prevalent. Also, nobody has mentioned anything about KFC being under the Champs banner initially, which was owned by the guy who started Grubees.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the name of Winnipeg's fast food chain, intended to compete with Macdonalds and the like, called "Rooney's"? I recall going to their location at or near River and Osborne many times in 1969, 1970 or so. If I'm wrong about the name, can someone please correct me? Either way, does anybody know who owned the company and sold the franchises, assuming they were franchises?

Anonymous said...

What was the restaurant called that is now Asia City on mcphillips?

Anonymous said...

I believe Rooney's was owned by A & W. Went there may times for a Rooney burger!!

Russ said...

Does anyone remember a restaurant called the Fireplace "something" on south Pembina Highway near the University.

itsmewhoelse@live.ca said...

Yes me too. Great bagels but was badly managed by the owner. So it went under.

itsmewhoelse@live.ca said...

Don't forget the Wagon Wheel off Portage on Hargrave I think. Best clubhouse sandwiches in the city

D Malinowski said...

Grapes still has a restaurant in Thompson. Ate there once. It was nowhere near the same as the Winnipeg locations we used to go to. Still, it is the old Grapes with no soup bar like they used to have, but the menu seemed similar. Not dead in Manitoba yet, but deffinately petering out. Oh and one other in downtown Winnipeg just down the block from The Met and Capitol Theatres on Donald street... "Mother Tuckers Food Experience" some of the best prime rib in the city!

D Malinowski said...

Grapes still has a restaurant in Thompson. Ate there once. It was nowhere near the same as the Winnipeg locations we used to go to. Still, it is the old Grapes with no soup bar like they used to have, but the menu seemed similar. Not dead in Manitoba yet, but deffinately petering out. Oh and one other in downtown Winnipeg just down the block from The Met and Capitol Theatres on Donald street... "Mother Tuckers Food Experience" some of the best prime rib in the city!

Anonymous said...

Remember the Cheesecake Factory? It was on portage avenue, where the Big and tall is now. There was also Pharo's restaurants, one in westwood and can't remember where the other one was. They were the home of the sizzling steak in the 70's 80's. There was also a fast food burger joint called Kavanaugh's in the early 70's. It was located by the Village Inn in Westwood. They tried to outdo Mcdonalds. Didn't work.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the name of the HUGE ice-cream dessert (for 10) that was on the menu of MR. GreenJeans in Winnipeg (way back in the 90s)? Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the original pizza place opening in st James 1961-1962 -tossing dough in the window by singer sewing machine. How about the paddock? How about marvels from red boot? What about the donut house on portage and berry in the 60's

Anonymous said...

I miss Mother Tucker's Food Experience. It was downtown in a mansion/house across from the United Army Surplus store and next to the Capitol Theatre on Donald Street.
It had "MTFE" on the door handles.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed many meals @ "Grapes" ..."Grapes Kenaston", "Grapes Main" and "Grapes Pier 7" over on Pembina Hwy .. good times wearing my grey Miami Vice boxy sport coat! :)

Anonymous said...

Suzie Q's on portage!

KRB said...

They are still around

KRB said...

Harveys only has 2 one portage at langside..the other is at the airport

KRB said...

KFC ferry road at portage became a pizza pizza..

Wendys closed at portage and cavalier and reopened a few years later in the old a & w location closer to sturgeon.

KRB said...

Still a few pizza places around I think

KRB said...

Tim Hortons tried having cold stone creamery in there main street store and that closed...

There was also the chocolate shop on portage that had physic readings

Also Zoratti's restaurant on portage ave where portage place is now....


And there was a Greek restaurant in Charleswood that has closed but I can't recall the name..

Also what was the restaurant just west of bedson just past the Boyd where river city ford has built there expansion?

John Dobbin said...

Greek restaurant in Charleswood was Matheos.

Jackie Lussier said...

I remember Fuddruckers on St.James. It had it's own bakery and butcher. You could see them work behind the counter.You created
your own burger by adding a variety of toppings. What happened to it?

Karen Komar said...

Trapper Johns

Anonymous said...

Arby's

Anonymous said...

I have not read all the posts but I grew up in Elmwood in the 1960's, and before McDonalds opened up on Nairn, a restaurant called KAVANAUGHS was on the site and had big horns on the Marquee. After they folded, the same restaurant was known as KAMPS. Myself and a friend used to ride our bikes there and get fries. After that was gone, McDonals moved in. That is going back to the early 60's!

Anonymous said...

This may be a longshot, but does anyone remember a burger joint in the early to mid 70s in St. Boniface? It was in the little strip mall on the corner of Provencher and Des Meurons,on the south east side. It had one of those clown mascots with the big white smile around the mouth. Probably died VERY fast, but can't remember?

Tanya Nash said...

Anyone remember Pomadori's by poli park where Madison Square is now? Used to go there all the time! My fave! SO good!��

Anonymous said...

i believe the steak house at the corner of St James and St Mathews was called trapper johns

Anonymous said...

KRB the greek restaurant in charleswood tha closed was Matheos.

Anonymous said...

Kamps lasted into the late 60s and they also had a location on Notre Dame

William McKnight said...

Clancys on Regent ??

Anonymous said...

carnival restaurants (order by phone), kavanoughs in westwood, grandma lees, caesars palace, plush puppy and hot dog factory in polo park, sorrentos, the hefty burger, t-j's, eatons 5th floor(valley room?)...and 3rd floor cafeteria, myers ....

ve4mm said...

CC Biggs on Regent

Manhattan Restaurant - Corner of Grant & Pembina

Truckers Lunch - McPhillips near Alexander

Doug, Lyn, Polar said...

Hey, he has rarely been "cheery", it's Cherry!
In the same neighborhood there was Kavanaugh's on Regent near Chateau Lanes. Before that it was a different drive In restaurant with a clown name - anyone remember??

Anonymous said...

I worked at Caesar's Palace Restaurant in 1980 in St.Vital center. There was also one in Polo Park.

Anonymous said...

We can't forget the long lasting Shanghai Restaurant. It seemed the same staff worked there all 40 years I had gone there!!