Great Steaks, Good Friends, (See You Tonight)


The Keg Steakhouse & Bar (or Keg ‘n Cleaver as it was known in those days) originated in Vancouver in 1971.  When they opened their first Winnipeg location on Garry St. I was one of the hostesses that stood out on the sidewalk to get the names from the people at the back of the line as it stretched down the sidewalk.  Those were crazy days for me, university classes during the day and long evenings trying to balance a tray full of Silver Clouds while maneuvering in a skirt that touched the ground.  If you’ve seen the beautiful ladies at a Keg lately, you’ll see that the skirt length has definitely changed!

The Keg management and staff were like family-figuritively and literally!  In those days the Keg was owned and operated by George Tidball (who brought McDonald’s to Canada).  He was a man who believed that if a person was a great Keg employee, their sister or brother would likely make a great one too!   If you were a Chapdelaine, a Grisim, a Kapilik, a Resch or a Furlan you were likely working at the Keg.  Over the years my Mother-in-law, my husband’s two sisters and three brothers all worked there.  One sister-in-law met her husband at the Southside location.  My own two sisters and two of my brother-in-law’s brothers were on staff as well….well you get the picture.  It was a ripple effect and the friends that I made over my long career at The Keg are still my very best friends today.


Along the way, I recommended that a couple of friends work there too. Owner of The Kegs in Winnipeg is Gord Howard who I have known and been good friends with since we were both 11 years old.  I’ll come back to him in a moment. “M”, one of my besties (then and now) was a petite woman, with curly hair that I envied and an enormous smile.  She and I were college roommates, traveled Europe together, had our babes together and lived on the same street in Wolseley.  There was a time when she and her eventual husband “R” would include me on their weekend dates, as I was single at the time and not terribly pleased about it. We have been friends through long marriages and the joys and tough times of raising our children even when she moved to Toronto with her husband and their young family and left me here in Winnipeg.

R did not work with us at the restaurant but he spent a great deal of time there and became part of the extended Keg family.  In the meanwhile, they were good friends with another couple: “P and G” (I am using initials because we called each other by our initials in those days for some reason unbeknownst to me).  I was “KK” and Keggers that I meet now still call me this.  P was an artsy fartsy just like me and the G just so happened to be the brother of my brother-in-law.  They too had connected while both were staff members at the restaurant and had subsequently moved their young family to Vernon, BC.  One summer, in 1998, years after we had all met and while both couples were in Winnipeg visiting their respective families, they got together for dinner (at The Keg of course).  They had such a lovely time that they made a pact to do so again.


They wrote their pledge onto the back of a Keg coaster and ripped it in two.  They called themselves the KCC-The Keg Coaster Club.  Many years pass, children grow up and move away.  This past year the Vernon couple were down-sizing and G came across the half coaster while sorting and packing.  He mailed a letter to M&R and talked about meeting in Winnipeg for dinner, in order to fulfil the mutual pledge.  I got wind of the date because it meant that I would see M as we always spend some time together when she is here or I am in TO.  I got in touch with Keg owner Gord, to let him know what was going to occur and asked whether he might want to host the foursome.  The answer, without hesitation was yes!


Perhaps they ordered an extra glass of wine for the table too.  That might explain why R is “two-fisting” it.

So this past weekend all four of them were in Winnipeg and resurrected a couple of old traditions: one was ordering a “Beer for the table, just in case….”.  “Just in case…what?” I asked M.  “Just in case, I don’t know!” she replied and the second was the dissection of another coaster with a familiar pledge.  This time they wrote the date on it.


The evening was a tremendous success.  Not only did the couples love being together again but they enjoyed the Keg hospitality immensely.


They shared Tuna Tacos and R ordered his favourite Bacon-Wrapped Scallops.


Dinner was comprised of Dungeness Crab, Grilled Salmon (as the Vernonites are Pescetarians) and Keg Steaks (which R went on and on about the next evening-he was blown away by the quality and flavour).

To bring the loop full circle, at one point in the evening, the General Manager of the Garry St. Keg dropped by the table.  His name is Laurent Chapdelaine of one of the “founding” families of the Garry St. Keg mentioned above.  His Mom was a former Keg Manager too, his sister is currently the General Manager at the St. James Keg and all his sisters worked there in the early years as well.  Our son currently works for his sister…and it goes on.

Kath’s quote: “Friendship is a gift that is fair in all things. It roots from one’s heart and involves memories that stay not for a while but for a lifetime.”-unknown


My dear friend and I with the Wee One

Love-that is all.



posted under Food Celebrations

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment: