Mark Rendell

Restaurant Round-Up: Shout, Lenny Burger and The Fat Fox

Good news everybody! Downtown Yellowknife is about to get a lot tastier and slightly dancier if all goes to plan. Along with the much-anticipated Korea House, which is still firming up opening dates and menu items, here are three potentially exciting new projects set to open in the coming months.

Twist and Shout

Twist owners Jason Perrino and Colin Snow recently acquired the entire building that Twist is in and are getting ready to open a dance club, aptly named Shout (get it?), in the basement where Fuego’s once was. The plan is to have a grand opening in early January.

Renovations are underway as we speak; Fuego’s raised floor space is being dropped to make a single large dance floor with “awesome sound and lighting,” says Snow. They’re hoping to have a regular DJ playing, and though capacity is still up in the air, Snow expects there will be room for about 160-180 people. Although Snow didn’t go into a lot of detail about décor, he said they’re “going for a modern bar look.”

The flipside of Snow and Perrino’s new focus on Twist and Shout is that they’re selling their After 8 bar, the subsequent fate of which remains uncertain. “With the purchase of the building, we wanted to have everything under one roof,” says Snow.

Lenny Burger

Following the great and not-at-all-overplayed KFC crisis of 2015, a silver lining quickly emerged: from the greasy ashes of KFC would be reborn a Yellowknife classic: Lenny Burger.

Extensive renovations of the old KFC building are currently underway, and the details beginning to emerge are pretty exciting. The old take-out area will remain a take-out, where people can get their secret-sauced-up burgers on the fly. The old dining area will be turned into a full restaurant and bar, serving the iconic burger the joint is named for, but also featuring comfort-food style menu items like fish and chips, bison bratwurst and a mix of commercial and craft beers.

“My plan for the most part is to try and keep to organic-sourced meat, beef, pork, bison, local fish for fish and chips,” says owner Matthew Jason. “I found a cool bison farm in Alberta that does bison sausages with their own local butcher.”

The restaurant/bar is certainly going to be serving more upscale nosh than KFC, but “it is still supposed to be fast food to an extent,” says Jason.

To add to the menu, the place may also be quite the looker. Jason has hired interior designer Kelsey McDougall to help give the place a certain Yellowknife flare.

“It’s sort of rustic, sort of old industrial,” says McDougall, describing her design theme. “You picture some of the sheds and shacks in Old Town, neat old accessories… almost like you’re inside of a cabin.”

“If you came to Yellowknife, it’s what you’d expect a burger joint to be like,” says Jason. “We want to appeal to the tourism industry, but not over-the-top cheesy; Yellowknifers will like it too.”

Perhaps the biggest win, from a downtown dining/social perspective, is their plan to turn much of the large parking lot in front of the building into a patio, equipped with large communal tables, some more intimate seating and a stage for live music. They still have to get the development permit for this, so the size and amenities of the patio are up in the air.

Jason says the operation will roll out in stages: the take-out will hopefully open sometime early in the new year; they’re aiming to have the restaurant and patio done by late spring, early summer.

The Fat Fox

Coffee buffs, lunch-goers, café dwellers and young music fans will be pleased to hear the Diner is set to reopen as a café, community space and all-ages music venue.

The Fat Fox is aiming to be YK’s new go-to lunch spot, with a rotating menu of stews, soups and curries, coffee and baked goods. “It will be a small, varying menu with lots of fresh ingredients, that you can grab for $12 or $13,” says first-time restaurateur Jeremy Flatt. “And I’d really like to up the game a little bit with coffee in town.”

The physical space won’t change all that much: “We’ll probably take the tables out but not the booths,” says Flatt. “We’re not trying to be anything other than what it is: the old Diner –  maybe with a few new comfy chairs and some stylish salvaged tables.”

What will change, he hopes, is the feel of the space. The idea is to make it into something of a community hangout, with local art on the walls, a take-a-book-lend-a-book shelf, board games and a small stage for musicians.

“Lunch will probably be our bread-and-butter but we’re aiming for a nice environment in the evenings as well, where you can have a meal with a beer or a coffee, read a book or play a game, and maybe see a band once a week.”

Although the plan is to serve beer, Flatt also wants to make it a venue where young people can come watch live music, something Yellowknife is fairly short on right now. “If 14,15-year-olds want to see the bands they can have hot chocolate or soda, while people of age can have a beer.” He’s still figuring out liquor licensing, but examples like this already exist around town (like the Dancing Moose.)

Flatt hopes to have The Fat Fox up and running by late December or early in the new year, though it all depends on how quickly his permitting and insurance comes through. He’s entered into an agreement with the building owners to rent the space but is waiting on a final insurance quote before sealing the deal.