Pizza junkies to lose Tubby’s

River Heights haunt closing after 45 years


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Tubby's Pizza, the River Heights hangout of families and rock stars, will close later this month after 45 years in business.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/04/2010 (4734 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Tubby’s Pizza, the River Heights hangout of families and rock stars, will close later this month after 45 years in business.

Owner Charlie Clements has sold the building on the corner of Stafford Street and Grosvenor Avenue to another restaurateur.

"The time’s right," said Clements, 72, with a shrug. "They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse."

Tubby’s, and the Charlie-O’s lounge next door, will close April 21, but not after a week of reminiscing and a special gathering next Saturday.

"We’ll just have some pizza and do what we do, stand around, have a few drinks," Clements said.

After that, Clements said he might travel a little or go work for friends to keep busy.

Clements, a Regina boy who worked the concession stand at Taylor Field while he was in grade school, came to Winnipeg in the early 1960s to open a coffee house on Pembina Highway. That’s where he met the likes of comic George Carlin and folk icon Joni Mitchell and began his long association with some of the city’s best-known rock stars.

Later, when Tubby’s opened and expanded into an old soda shop and a corner store, it became a regular hangout for Burton Cummings and the Guess Who. They used to record in a studio down the street and would come in for a beer and hang out until the wee hours of the morning.

Another Tubby’s regular, folk-rocker Neil Young, famously borrowed $40 for gas to get to a gig in northwestern Ontario that Clements had finagled for him.

Young never repaid the debt, which turned into one of Clements’ well-known punchlines.

"His friendship was enough," Clements said.

A wall on the way into Tubby’s is adorned with framed, signed pictures of famous patrons, everyone from sports stars to radio DJs to a trim Burton Cummings in a striped shirt. But Clements said it’s the neighbourhood families that have been coming to Tubby’s for generations that made the job fun.

The closure will affect about nine staffers, including Clements’ daughter, who runs the day-to-day operations, and the chef, who has been Clements’ pizza-maker for nearly 40 years.

Clements said the new owners plan to open a new restaurant, something a little higher-end than Tubby’s famous comfy pink vinyl booths and homey ham-and-pinapple pies.

"It was a fun 45 years. I made a ton of friends," Clements said. "I might have made a few enemies, too, but I couldn’t tell you their names."


Updated on Monday, April 12, 2010 12:20 PM CDT: Corrected detail.

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