Monday, March 24, 2014

564 1/2 Main Street - Original Food Bar

Original Food Bar, Winnipeg
Place: Original Food Bar
Address: 564 1/2 Main Street (Map)
Constructed: 1979
Architect: Unknown


Top left, ca. 1919 (source)

Though the current building at 562-564 1/2 Main Street at Rupert was built in 1979, this lot has been the site of many long-time retailers since the 1880s. Three, in fact, called it home for four decades or more: Public Drugs (at 560); The Hub clothiers (at 652 and 564) and Original Food Bar (at 564 1/2).

June 20, 1935, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1935, Andrew Petrakos moved to Winnipeg from his native Fort William, Ontario and opened the Coney Island Lunch at 564 1/2 Main Street. The following year, his brother, John "Jack", also came to Winnipeg and joined Andrew in the business.

The name change to Original Food Bar came around 1940. The specialty of the 75-seat restaurant with lunch counter was spaghetti and meatballs, which was called a "half and half".

It was a favourite haunt of police due to its late night hours and proximity to the police station a block away on Rupert Avenue.

The Petrakos' kept low profiles, or at least enough to keep their names out of newspaper stories.  

John had a wife, Mildred, and daughter, Daphne. They eventually settled at 105 Lawndale Avenue.

Andrew was married to Margeret "Peggy" and had a son, John, who would eventually join them in the business. They lived at 239 Academy Road.

December 7, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

In December 1954, the first of two major fires hit the block.

It began in The Hub and caused extensive damage to it, the neighbouring Public Drugs, and a hair salon. The Original Food Bar, located to the north of The Hub, sustained smoke damage and was open again in a week.

Both brothers died in the 1960s, John in 1963 and Andrew in 1969. Soon after, the Petrakos family sold off the business.

In 1975, John Petrakos, Andrew's son, partnered with Steve Hrousalas to purchase Rae and Jerry's from original owners Johnny Rae and Jerry Hemsworth. (He also may have opened the first Juniors in 1958, though sold it the following year.)


The next owner was John Sklavenitis.

Sklaventis was from the island of
Meganisi, Greece and came to Winnipeg in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he managed places such as the College Grill on Portage and the Seven Islands Club.

In the early 1970s, he purchased the Original Food Bar and ran it along with wife, Cathy

January 19, 1977, Winnipeg Free Press

Bad luck came again in January 1977 when another fire hit the building, this one destroying it and the neighbouring block at 566 Main Street. The cause was believed to have been accidental.

It took
Sklavenitis a long time to recover form the fire. It wasn't until August 1979 that a new building was in place and the business was up and running again.

the restaurant's longest-serving employee did not live to see the reopening. Catherine Mularchuk was a cook for 39 years and died in 1978.

In 1982, Sklavenitis sold the Original Food Bar and its spaghetti recipe to new owners and retired back to Greece with Cathy. John died in 2013.

December 1, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

The final owners of the restaurant were Tom and Christina Panopoulos. They ran Manhattan's Restaurant on Portage Avenue until it was expropriated for the North Portage Development, (Portage Place, etc.), in 1982.

In 1997, the Panopoulos' were ready to retire back to their native Greece and put the business up for sale. There were no takers until August 1999 when Siloam Mission, which had been expropriated from its home near Higgins and Main to make way for Thunderbird House, purchased the building.

Siloam managed to serve up to 400 meals a day from this space, but could not offer many other services. In 2004, they sold the building for $100,000 and the following year relocated to their present Princess Street address.

Since that time, the building has sat empty despite a great deal of redevelopment along the west side of Main Street from City Hall to Higgins Avenue.

In 2014, the Compendium Artist Market leased the building and began renovating the space into a graphic arts studio and gallery. The project ran into difficulties with its bank and other funders and never opened.

In December 2018, sk8, a Winnipeg skateboard and apparel shop founded in 1987, opened a new location at 564 1/2 Main.

New creative hub for the new year The Manitoban

More Original Food Bar ads:

June 26, 1948, Winnipeg Tribune

December 8, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

December 29, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

 December 1, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press


  1. Update March 2015 - The Compendium will not be happening:

  2. 1886-1903 it was D.W. Fleury's furniture/clothing store. D.W. was my great-grand uncle.

  3. do you have any pictures of the Manhatten Rest? Was a great place

  4. Who bought the meat sauce recipe? It was so good.

  5. Did anyone ever buy the spaghetti sauce ? Can the recipe be shared

  6. My parents ran a ladies wear store at 572-4 Main a few doors north of the Original Food Bar. In the early 50's a bowl of Chili, with 2 slices of buttered toast and coffee (no free refills) was 35 cents. Near 1955 they raised the price to 45 cents. I loved visiting my parent's store, mainly because I got to get that great chili. I remember Andy and John fondly; They were very nice to me . . . they died just after I moved to California.