The Original Pancake House on Pembina Highway will be closing its doors for good.

In 1958, the Original Pancake House opened along Pembina Highway in Winnipeg and operated for 63 years until 2021. The sign is one of the first things you see heading south into Fort Garry. There are three remaining Pancake Houses in Winnipeg at The Clarion next to Polo Park, The Forks and the newest at McGillivary at Kenaston across from Costco. The staff have all found homes in the remaining locations.

Like many restaurants, the pandemic has been hard on Pancake House. The lockdowns, reduced capacity and slow return of staff resulted in reduced hours at all locations.

However, the Pembina location likely would have remained open had it not been for an offer they couldn’t refuse. The adult children of Wally and Monty Guberman entertained an offer from Vic’s Market owner Scott Schriemer for the land where the Original Pancake House stands.

Amazingly Vic Schreimer and Wally Guberman started their businesses in the same year of 1958. The companies remain family owned. Scott Schreimer is son of Vic.

It’s no secret that Vic’s was feeling cramped and the land surrounding the Pancake House is substantial. The completion of the underpass at Pembina has had many owners look at their long time businesses and consider what comes next.

Vic’s itself has had many locations over the decades along Pembina Highway. They only moved to the 5000 square foot location across from Pancake House in 1986. They occupied only a small portion of it but over the years took over the whole building.

The iconic sign for Pancake House will be sorely missed. You truly don’t see signs like it anymore.

The impending demolition of the Pancake House isn’t the only thing happening on the west side of Pembina Highway. The Pembina Hotel, built in 1953 for Carling O’Keefe and taken over by the Druxman family in 1958 when the beer companies were forced to sell their hotels. Sabino Tummilo and family took over in 2015.

There is presently a proposal for a 22-floor apartment building with 226 suites and 7000 square feet of retail space on the first floor. There have been quite a few former university residents who are crying about the loss of The Pemby. A re-fresh of some sort seemed inevitable.

Resident of Fort Garry are now probably wondering if they will lose their competing waterhole across the way The Cambridge. It was once owned by Labatt’s.

Density is probably preferred along Pembina Highway. The active transportation by the overpass is a fine piece of infrastructure despite the dogear it does as it proceed past Parker Avenue. A 20-storey building is likely to find residents.

It’s the end of an era for sure, but it doesn’t have to be a bad change. Winnipeg sometimes doesn’t seem to change for decades but we have seen some major change in the last several years.

Still, a long time grocer like Vic’s beside a 20 floor apartment seems to make a lot sense, doesn’t it? And while the loss of a vendor and beverage room hurts, it is possible that we will see new innovative places places for restaurants and lounges.

Our family went to many a birthday and family gatherings at The Pancake House. My dad was a Fort Garry resident just before it was built. He and my mom went in search of it in 2018 and construction made them go past it all the way to St. Norbert. They never did make it to to that location but enjoyed Polo Park until just before they moved to assisted living.

I will miss it.

This has been a editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations