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)

562-564 1/2 Main Street at Rupert, next to the McLaren Hotel, has always been an important retail hub. It has been the home to three businesses that called it home for four decades or more: Public Drugs (560); The Hub clothiers (652 and 564) and Original Food Bar (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 also came to Winnipeg and joined Andrew in the business.

The name change to Original Food Bar came around 1940. It was one of dozens of lunch counters that dotted the downtown. The specialty of the house was spaghetti and meatballs.

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.

The Petrakos' kept low profiles, or at least out of newspaper stories and social columns. Aside from "help wanted" classified ads the restaurant rarely advertized in newspapers.

Both brothers died in the 1960s, John in 1963 and Andrew in 1969. It is unclear if the business was sold after Andrew's death or if any remaining family members, John's wife Mildred and daughter Daphne and / or Andrew's wife Margeret "Peggy" and son John A, continued to run it.

January 19, 1977, Winnipeg Free Press

The second fire in January 1977 destroyed the building and the neighbouring building at 566 Main Street. It was not until September 1979 that the Original Food Bar reopened at that same site.

Two of the cafe's longest serving employees did not live to see the reopening. Peter Macht  worked there for 33 years, retired in 1972 and died in September 1977. Catherine Mularchuk was a cook for 39 years and died in 1978.

December 1, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

The next long term owner was Tom and Christina Panopoulos. The couple ran Manhattan's Restaurant on Portage Avenue until it was expropriated for the North Portage Development in 1982. They then bought Original Food Bar and its spaghetti recipe from the owner, (likely  "Sklaventis Enterprises" who were the owners in 1981). 

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 purchased the building. They had been expropriated from their home near Higgins and Main to make way for Thunderbird House.

Despite the space being a cafe that held 75 seats, Siloam managed to serve up to 400 meals a day from it. 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.

The Compendium Artist Market has leased the building and is renovating it into a graphic arts studio and gallery. It is expected to open in May or June 2014.

Compendium Artist Market Website
Compendium Artist Market Video
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:

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  5. 1886-1903 it was D.W. Fleury's furniture/clothing store. D.W. was my great-grand uncle.

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  7. I would love to find the recipe for the Spaghetti Sauce served at the Food Bar. I remember going there for lunch as a kid. Delicious!

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