October 24, 1954 ad
So, off I went with a good friend today to have a last lunch at the Padlewheel Restaurant in the Bay Downtown before it closes on January 24th. Thursdays mean carved roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Screw the food court, you just can't beat that sort of meal for just over $10.
Sadly, we were greeted by a sign that "due to circumstances there will be no roast beef or turkey today." Ah well, maybe a pot pie or something ? Nope. All the dinner side of the buffet had on offer for meat was breakfast sausages ! Hmmm......
We tried the grill side in search of meat but all they had was fries and gravy. No burgers, no hot dogs, no sandwiches or eggs that you could at least combine with the sausage to make a breakfast plate. (Hint: There's a grocery store 6 floors below.)
To top off my weird combination lunch, there was no cutlery of any sort available except metal spoons. It was a restaurant of people eating with their hands.
Needless to say, it was a great disappointment. An undeserved and unprofessional send off for a restaurant that many Winnipeggers have great memories of from its 58 years in business. It deserved a hell of a lot better than that.
It's a bit indicative of what HBC has been up to with the Bay Downtown for the past couple of years. Perhaps it's an intentional strategy: let things slide to the point that even people who like the Bay Downtown and all it had / has to offer will actually celebrate it being put out of its misery.
The only positive was that the Paddlewheel's paddlewheel was actually turning again, (though I'm not sure what was up with the broken Manitoba flag dragging behind it.) It was also nice to see a steady stream of old-timers, some of them in large groups, lining up to get their photos taken with it in the background.
It's too bad that the Bay couldn't have mustered the interest in making it a nice send off.