Thursday, 17 January 2013

A final, pathetic lunch at the Paddlewheel

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.  


One Man Committee said...

What a letdown. Sounds like they have kind-of sort-of already gone out of business. I was there a little over a month ago before the announcement and it was still a functional restaurant inasmuch as it offered more than one kind of meat and type of eating utensil.

The Bay Downtown has definitely been on a downward slide for quite some time, but it has been accelerating since three of the floors were closed. It's as if they've given up... it's starting to remind me of Eaton's in its very last days in the late 1990s.

I suppose one can't really blame HBC. They're just doing what makes sense given the circumstances. I suppose we are getting, to quote the famous NY Times editorial, the kind of city that we admire, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserve.

mrchristian said...

When I noticed that the Bay Downtown's Facebook page and twitter feed seized in late November, prior to the Christmas rush, I figured that was cutting the rope and setting it adrift.

Winnipeg Girl said...

As we know, I'm a sucker for nostalgia and this makes me really sad. It also doesn't even make sense that all cutlery save but spoons would have disappeared??!!

I was going to try to make it down before they closed but maybe now I'll go just for a photo op and skip the eating.

John Dobbin said...

I guess I won't be making a trip downtown for that type of disheartening end. I used to work at The Bay downtown.

I wonder if the store will even make it to the summer. :(

The View from Seven said...

Just got back from a late lunch there. Fortunately, they had the roast beef in stock today.

Quite the lineup at the entrees counter, even after 1 p.m. The woman behind me was curious as to why I was recording my lunch order on my digital camera, and was surprised to learn that the Paddlewheel is closing next week. Many others were wandering around with cameras as well.

It seems they are either using up whatever food is left, only ordering in small quantities, or running on a limited staff. The salad bar was down to next to nothing, the dessert cooler was nearly empty and a sign noted that the short order counter is low on stock.

If you haven't gone yet, go for lunch while you still can. (The restaurant is no longer open past 4 p.m.)

And my apologies, fellow customers, for being the guy who took the last (plastic) knife at the cash counter on the right hand side. The cashier said it's been very busy this week, and they're struggling to keep up with the dishwashing.

I'm hoping to piece together the video this weekend. Since digital video theoretically lasts forever, maybe some researcher will find it interesting in the year 2513.

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