After more than a half century in business, a popular local eatery served its final meal last week.
Regent Restaurant, located on the corner of Regent Avenue and Day Street, was owned and operated by Pat Kowalchuk and her husband John for 50 years before his death two years ago.
Kowalchuk kept the business going the last two years, but felt the time had finally come to move on. The restaurant’s last day of operation was July 14.
Prior to the Kowalchuks taking over the restaurant, it operated under the names Tony’s and the L & G Grill.
"I’ve had enough. It was different when John was here, but it’s time," said Kowalchuk, who lives in East St. Paul. "It’s going to be difficult, but I’ve been here long (enough)."
Kowalchuk said her husband’s love of the business and a loyal clientele kept the restaurant going.
"I’m very appreciative to the customers, they were more like friends," the 72-year-old entrepreneur said.
"We’ve seen them and their kids grow up, they’re all great people. We even did some catering so we got to do marriages and celebrate anniversaries."
Longtime Transcona resident Helen Torchia, who worked at the restaurant on weekends for three years beginning when she was 16, said the closure of the restaurant is a big loss for the community.
"It’s going to be sad to drive by and know she’s not there, it’s going to be strange. It was weird when Johnny died too because he knew all of us by name," Torchia said.
"Things do come to an end, but we have our memories."
Carl Golebioski, who was a regular customer at the restaurant for the last eight years, said it’s too bad that the community meeting place will no longer be around.
"We’re sorry to see it go, it’s a place where people meet," said Golebioski, who has lived in Transcona for 20 years.
"Some of my family that worked at the CN shops used to get their meals here when John was still around."
Even though Kowalchuk is closing the restaurant, she plans to keep busy with her other business.
Regent Ceramics has been around for 45 years and spent time operating out of a former banquet room in the back of the restaurant. Kowalchuk plans to now operate the business out of her home.
"I’ll be relaxing and doing some ceramics, that’s enough for me because it keeps me busy," she said.
"I just wish my husband was here too."