Business, City & Politics, Planning

Five business ideas that could replace Papa George’s

After more than 30 years at the corner of River and Osborne in the heart of Osborne Village, Papa George’s restaurant will close its doors this month. Open until 4:00 am, Papa George’s served several generations of drunk and hungry young Winnipeggers late at night (and Lord knows who during the day).

Speculations on what will take over the space abound, including that it will become a Tim Horton’s, Boston Pizza, or a McDonald’s. This may be disappointing to those who appreciate the uniqueness of Canada’s Greatest Neighbourhood, but given the high rents associated with the large space and its location at a prominent intersection, it’s not completely surprising that corporate chains are among the serious contenders.

However, it may not just become another homogeneous slice of commercial suburbia.

Here are five other possible businesses currently vying for the Papa George’s space:

Have Your Cake and Eat It Organic Bakery
This place appeases the sensibilities of every progressive Village purist who decries the creeping corporatization of their beloved neighbourhood. Have Your Cake and Eat It is a worker’s co-op, but is also unionized. Its menu is locally-sourced foods, but it also somehow carries items with avocados, kale, and pomegranates year ‘round. It operates under a “true cost” economic model, but is also as cheap as McDonald’s. It’s inclusive to people from all kinds of backgrounds, but also makes you feel exclusive and validated in your hipsterdom by going there. It’s open whenever you want it to be.

Where Else Are You Going to Go? Late-night Diner
A labour of love for Papa George’s night-shift host (you know the guy), this place offers up even slower service, worse food, and poorer lighting than Papa George’s ever did. When you go to the counter to pay your bill ($21.56, plus tip), and come to the sad realization that this is how your night is going to end, the proprietor will glance up at you with a look that says “that’s right: this is the worst restaurant in the world, but it’s 3:00 am in Winnipeg. What else are you going to do? Take a cab out to the suburbs to go to Perkins? Move to a real city? Go to Little Pizza Heaven? HA HA HA HA. You are mine. All mine.”

Surname + Surname Co. (Est’d. 2012)
This ultra-hip hotspot is regularly featured in your Instagram feed, and in stories in weekly papers and trendy blogs that have the word “Brooklyn” in their headline. Despite all the hype, no one knows what exactly they do here. It’s either an organic brewpub, a vintage toboggan dealer, or a general store specializing in glass jars of artisanal mayonnaise. Whatever the case, the important thing is that photos of their hand-painted logo on the plate-glass window look amaaazing with the Earlybird filter.

The Soul of Osborne Village Museum and Interpretive Centre
Travel back in time with actors in period costume as they guide you through a virtual Osborne Village of days gone by, looking at the many times in history that the Soul of the Village was lost. The tour begins in the 1890s, when Winnipeg’s millionaires started building mansions on their Roslyn Road estates, totally gentrifying the place. From there we go to 1905, when big banks took over the neighbourhood with the opening of the Bank of Montreal at the corner of Osborne and Stradbrook. Fast-forward to the late 1960s, when a hippie record store and flophouse called The Experiment was closed by the fascist squares from the City of Winnipeg Health Department. Then it’s on to the early 1990s, when the Tom-Tom Club became Die Maschine, and finally to the early 2000s, when Die Maschine became American Apparel.

Come for a tour before 6:00 pm and receive a free “I don’t even go to The Toad anymore” t-shirt.

Stella’s Cafe and Bakery
Seriously, how is anyone going to say this is a bad thing?


Robert Galston likes to write about Winnipeg, urbanism, and other very, very exciting topics. Follow him on Twitter @riseandsprawl

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