James Avenue heritage creating restaurant poised to be a hot location

By virtue of its spot, James Avenue Pumphouse Food stuff and Consume is element-restaurant and component-museum.

A pair of paint-chipped fire hose carts — donated by the Winnipeg Hearth Museum — flank the entrance doorway and old copper extinguishers line a shelf higher than the extensive wooden bartop. Worn crimson fireplace hydrants have been resurrected as decor items dotting the interior and exterior of the grand brick making in the East Trade District.


MIKE Offer / WINNIPEG Totally free Push

An aged fire-hydrant is a single of the many historical features that have been sourced for the restaurant.

“I went to farms and manufactured my little ones split their backs to dig (the hydrants) out and load them up,” Pumphouse owner Darin Amies claims with a chuckle.

The historic touches in the restaurant’s modern day 100-seat eating place are deliberately delicate, leaving enough breathing place for the pièce de résistance: a lender of higher glass partitions that provide views of century-old machinery formerly employed to protect old downtown Winnipeg from hearth.

The James Avenue pumping station opened in 1907 and been given municipal heritage standing in the ’80s. Immediately after numerous, several unsuccessful proposals, the building at the corner of James Avenue and Waterfront Drive has not long ago been redeveloped to contain an upstairs place of work space and, now, a most important floor restaurant — tentatively established to open up on Sept. 15.

For Amies, opening working day nevertheless feels like an eternity absent.

“This has felt like the longest open I have ever carried out, and I have opened nicely about 30 restaurants,” states Amies, who is president of Eatz Enjoyment and Genuine Hospitality the latter operates the close by Cibo Waterfront Cafe as well as Junction 59 Roadhouse on Regent Avenue.

“The uncertainty of opening in COVID can make some days come to feel like a 7 days,” he suggests. “There’s just been so a lot of curveballs.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>James Avenue Pumphouse Food and Drink is part-restaurant and part-museum. </p>

MIKE Offer / WINNIPEG Free Press

James Avenue Pumphouse Meals and Consume is section-cafe and element-museum.

The pandemic has affected every thing from the price of constructing elements to the availability of light fixtures and plumbing parts. Include supplier problems to the tedium of design in a selected heritage creating and the timeline for completion appeared to extend on without end.

That reported, Amies has appreciated functioning with the city’s heritage division. “Almost nothing they asked me to do was out of line or absurd it all produced sense to me,” he claims.

Persistence and care were being essential each and every step of the way. Exterior signage experienced to be authorized and cautiously set up so as not to crack any of the authentic masonry each brick eradicated to build new doorways needed to be documented and saved and the pump home machines had to be cleaned by hand to stay clear of harmful the antique tools.

“There was 100 a long time of filth on some of this things,” Amies says.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Executive Chef Mark Merano in the bar at James Avenue Pumphouse.</p>

MIKE Offer / WINNIPEG No cost Push

Govt Chef Mark Merano in the bar at James Avenue Pumphouse.

Regardless of its grand dining home, James Avenue Pumphouse is endeavouring to be approachable. The menu, made by govt chef Mark Merano, is a worldly blend of superior- and low-brow fare, including anything from burgers to tacos to schnitzel to dan dan noodles — as nicely as a significant variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes. At $28, the beef small rib mash is the most costly merchandise on the menu.



“I anticipate my demographic to be young industry experts, folks who repeated the theatre… and persons who are energetic and out there we have a large amount of foot visitors and we want to cater to that,” states common supervisor Kaitlin Nikkel. “We attempt to have a little anything for absolutely everyone.”

Buzz about Pumphouse has been attaining just lately on social media and in genuine life. 2 times for the duration of the Totally free Press’s go to, passersby walked in to verify out the restaurant.

“That happens all the time,” Nikkel claims. “It does not surprise me that persons are drawn to it, but just the total of (interest), I didn’t anticipate it to be this massive of a factor for the metropolis.”



Pumphouse is just one of lots of new developments in the Exchange District east of Major Road. Large-conclusion residential properties have cropped up nearby and the neighbourhood is populated by a handful of fashionable bars and dining places, “We’re producing a bit of a local community listed here,” she suggests.

Nikkel has worked in the community restaurant market for extra than a ten years but this is her initially time aiding open up an eatery from the floor up. While she’s knowledgeable some of the very same staffing challenges as others, she’s feeling hopeful about the future amid the pandemic.

“It could be the worst timing in the environment or it could be the most effective timing in the world,” Nikkel claims of opening forward of the predicted fourth wave. “It gives men and women some thing clean, anything new and I believe a whole lot of persons are craving that appropriate now, so we’re happy to oblige.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>General Manager Kaitlin Nikkel at one of the tables that look out onto the preserved area of the pumphouse.</p></p>

MIKE Deal / WINNIPEG Free Push

Normal Supervisor Kaitlin Nikkel at one particular of the tables that seem out on to the preserved place of the pumphouse.

Amies has labored in franchises for most of his career and is now centered on opening scaled-down, independent restaurants in Winnipeg beneath the Legitimate Hospitality banner. Immediately after getting served launch Cibo approximately a 10 years in the past, the journey has occur total-circle with Pumphouse — in much more approaches than a single.

Historically, the riverside cafe served as the consumption station that funnelled drinking water from the Crimson River to the pump house at 109 James Ave. The two properties continue being bodily linked by a defunct tunnel that operates underneath Waterfront and are now tied together in a different everyday living by significant-conclude, casual dining.

“The properties are not connected the way they as soon as have been, but they are related,” Amie says. “It is a celebration of Winnipeg historical past.”

Like the cafe, the James Avenue Pumphouse web page is nonetheless below development. Diners can abide by @thepumphousefooddrink on Instagram for updates.

[email protected]

Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Theresa D. Begay

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