Restaurant Round-Up: New on 47th, Mackenzie Lounge in Danger

There’s a restaurant moving into what was once the Gallery on 47 Street, an announcement coming next week from the Yellowknife Inn about the future of the Mackenzie Lounge, and the folks behind Trek restaurant are leaving the Days Inn behind for Aurora College.

Trekking away from the Days

Janet Procure, executive chef at the flooded-out Trek Restaurant in the Days Inn, is moving on. Instead she’s starting a private business teaching cooking classes, both publicly and through Aurora College.

“We’re still sorting things out with the hotel,” says Procure, but “we’re not going to be continuing our relationship.” According to Procure, renovations and repairs are still ongoing to the hotel after last November’s flood.

Now she’s started a private cooking program, Willow Creek Kitchen, which offers classes through public channels and also as part of Aurora College’s continuing education program.

“It’s a transition project,” says Procure, but at the moment at least, it’s not clear what it will transition to. “There’s a niche here for gourmet-style food in a family restaurant… Other players might fill in the gaps.”

For now she’s concentrating on the niche closest to hand. “There wasn’t a formal cooking class in Yellowknife,” she says, adding that the last time a formal cooking program through Aurora was offered it used the Smokehouse Cafe.

The cooking program will be split into two streams; public, and Aurora College. They will be differentiated only slightly. “The public one will be more demonstration, with hands-on parts, and the college ones are entirely hands-on. It’s all professional instruction,” she says.

Gallery gets hungry

Elke Richter, who’s been a waitress at Bullock’s Bistro in Old Town for 19 years, is looking to break out on her own. She’s signed a contract with Colin Dempsey, the current owner of the building recently vacated by the Gallery on 47th St. “Renovations are happening. Hopefully it’ll start in June,” says Dempsey.

Richter, who is of German origin, envisions a German-Mediterranean restaurant, which by reason of the limited space available in the Gallery, will be an intimate spot. “It’ll be a simple place, going to have a porch. On sunny days like this, I’ll look forward to having a coffee out there.”

There’s still lots to be done; a full commercial kitchen needs to be installed before anything can happen, but Richter is confident. “I’ve been in talks with someone in Edmonton,” she says.

“I’m nobody’s competition,” she says, referring to the lack of a German or Mediterranean restaurant in town. Consequently, she’s not worried about attracting people. “People are always hungry, and when the food is good they will come.”

“She’s been super-involved in the restaurant (Bullock’s Bistro), and now she’s going out on her own,” adds Dempsey. “It’s going to be a small, intimate place. We’re hoping it’ll be a great lunch spot,” says Dempsey, and then he recalls that he is “just the landlord,” and not directly involved with the restaurant. “I have a natural tendency to just get involved with the businesses,” he adds with a laugh.

NWT Brew-Pub looks to June

The Brew-Pub is on schedule to open by mid-June, according to Fletcher Stevens. “We’re going to be bringing up our chef in May, by May 1, he’s already looking at accommodations. After he gets here we’ll hash out the menu, start looking at hiring in mid-May as well.” He hasn’t officially hired their chef, but “I’ve got a letter of application sitting on my desk,” and they’ve already been in talks for some time.

The vats for his brewing are due to arrive “in around two weeks,” but he’s still waiting on the Liquor Commission to get him a license to go with his 50% tax discount. “I think the director (of the Liquor Commission) needs to give us written permission, but we’ve sent in our application,” says Stevens.

The testing situation also still needs to be resolved. “I think they’ll be testing it once a year,” says Stevens. The beer he’ll be brewing will have to (at least once) be sent to Ottawa to be tested. “They’re waiting until closer to the opening to test it.”

“The painting’s basically done, and I think the interior is mostly finished.”

The Wise Guy maintains a steady course, maybe picking up speed

Fans of Robin Wasicuna’s summertime food truck operation Wiseguy may be in luck this summer; Wasicuna is looking to get an actual food truck sometime between the middle and end of the summer. “It’ll be a little more mobile, so I’ll be better able to get around and reach people.”

Other than that the plan is business as usual; his successful pop-up restaurant in the Dancing Moose, Numbers at Bayside, will operate Thursday to Saturday in the evenings, and Wasicuna will operate his Wiseguy truck during the week.

Mackenzie Lounge may be lounging no more

An announcement is coming for the Mackenzie Lounge, which has been the center of a nest of rumours in recent weeks. Catherine Travis, general manager of the Yellowknife Inn, declined to go into detail, saying only that, “I don’t know that it’s something to look forward to, but I’ll be ready to announce something next week.”

Rumours are going around the industry that the Lounge, a long-running institution connected to the hotel in one incarnation or another for decades, has been struggling, and might be closing. Travis did not confirm the rumours, nor would she speculate on what might replace the struggling establishment.

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