ICYMI: 130 Years of History Was Lost in Hungry Pug Fire

The building, now known as The Hungry Pug, has a long history of being home to some of Kenora’s all-time favorites.

According to the date provided by the Patsiatzis family (the building’s current owners), the building was home to WL Birden Meat Market, King Cash Grocery, Williams Tobacco Shop, Bryce’s Bakery, WS Irish Confectionary, McInnes Confectionary, Salisbury House and Bizzi Bee, Borelli, Pier, and of course the Hungry Pug.

The first business that called home 301 Second Street South was WL Birden Meat Market. Not much is known about this business, only that it was to be in operation prior to 1890 and was owned by W.L. Birden.

Ernest Appleton opened a wholesale branch of A. McDonald’s Grocery in 1890 after recently moving to Rat Portage. By 1897, he had changed his business to King Cash Grocery, which he organized and operated with John Partington.

In 1909 the building moved to WS Irish which opened the WS Irish Confectionary. The company sold cigars, sweets and stationery. They provided refreshments and lunches, and in the summer the business was also an ice cream parlour with a soda fountain.

From 1916 to 1922, Dan Mackins ran confectionery. By 1922, he had established a dairy company.

Around 1923, Richard Hingston Elliot came to town from Winnipeg to run a bakery for Bryce, and eventually went to buy the bakery from Bryce.

Established sometime before 1957, Salisbury House Restaurant has been one of the city’s favorite restaurants. Many locals will, to this day, share fond memories of their memories of the place. Ralph Martin Irwin opened the original Salisbury House Restaurant in Winnipeg around 1931. Irwin created the restaurant to serve the new trendy American invention, hamburgers, though Irwin found the term unfashionable so he called his creations “nips.” Irwin has opened Salisbury House restaurants in Brandon, Flin Flon, Kenora, Moss Joe, Calgary and Minneapolis.

The Patsiatzis family began creating Bizzi Bee in 1981 after purchasing Salisbury House. They ran the family restaurant for 25 years while also raising their three children. The restaurant not only served food but also had birthday and Christmas parties and endless memories.

In recent history, 301 Second Street South has been home to The Pier and Borelli’s, two shorter-lived but still beloved restaurants. Borelli was run by the Borelli family, an Italian family who relocated to Kenora and brought us the best cannoli in Northwest Ontario ever.

Finally, the building served as the home of The Hungry Pug, a unique breakfast place run by some of the nicest people. Carl Hensrud opened The Hungry Pug in March of 2019, and the restaurant prides itself on serving healthy, world-famous breakfast food with options for those who have been vegetarian and/or need gluten-free options.

During the height of the pandemic, The Hungry Pug opened its kitchen to Kenora’s only authentic Indian restaurant, Kurry. By doing so, he helped Jazz Virdi, the owner of Kurry, get back on his feet and establish his business on his own site.

And that’s where the history of 301 Second Street South stops. We hope, with the support of the community, to create a new building so that residents and businesses can once again call this place home.

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