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Kelekis Restaurant to close its doors after 81 years

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First the Wagon Wheel closed. Now Kelekis Restaurant.

Those are large grills and deep fryers to fill.

The Kelekis family has announced it is closing its family restaurant as of Jan. 30, 2013.

"I’m 88 next month and it’s time. That’s the way it goes," said Mary Kelekis, who still runs the restaurant and was there as usual this morning.

"It’s a place that many of us grew up in," said Winnipeg Free Press restaurant reviewer, Marion Warhaft. The closing "takes the colour out of the North End. Nothing can take its place," she said.

The C. Kelekis Restaurant was started in 1931 as a chip wagon by Chris Kelekis, at 1100 Main Street just off Redwood Avenue. His daughters later took over the restaurant.

The Kelekis family issued a statement: "So many friendships have been forged with customers that this is a very hard thing to contemplate. We will miss all the contacts and conversations with all of you."

Warhaft said certain places like Kelekis Restaurant "are beyond normal reviewing. It’s iconic. It’s just part of the city’s history."

Warhaft said she had her first "skinny fries with vinegar" at Kelekis. "I grew up on their hotdogs. Most people went with their hamburgers. It’s the sad passing of restaurants like Kelekis, Alicia’s, and Wagon Wheel. We all have sentimental attachment to them that was founded on their good food."

The story of the Kelekis landmark on Main Street actually date almost a century. In 1913, Chris Kelekis left a Greek community in Turkey to follow Magdalene, the love of his life, to Canada. They married and had eight children, son Leo, and seven daughters: Chryse, Fotina, Sophie, Evelyn, Mary and Becky. The daughters all worked in the restaurant and son, Leo, who became a lawyer, took care of legal matters.

Mary Kelekis has received many accolades over the years including the Order of Manitoba and the Press Club’s President Award. She is a founding member of Folklorama, which debuted in 1970, serving as coordinator of the Greek Pavilion.

 

Many celebrities have dined at the eatery over the years and their photos adorn the walls. The wall of photographs includes prime ministers Chretien and Trudeau, all local premiers since Sterling Lyon, performers like Monty Hall, Len Cariou and Al Waxman, and hockey players from Bobby Hull to son Brett, with Anders Hedberg and Billy Mosienko in between.

Most recently, a scene from the hockey movie, Goon, was shot at Kelekis. In the scene, the young hockey goon played by Seann William Scott is talking to his parents (his dad is played by Eugene Levy) about his hockey career.

 

 

 

 

History

Updated on Friday, November 30, 2012 at 8:49 AM CST: Updated

9:52 AM: Updated

10:12 AM: Images added

10:55 AM: Updated

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