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This article was published 4/12/2015 (596 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
By this time next week, Brandonites will be able to sip on Prohibition-era cocktails inside the highly anticipated Prairie Firehouse.
After months of construction and menu planning, the transformation of the historic fire hall’s main floor into a restaurant is complete.
"We’ve had so much community support, which we really appreciate," said Phil Dorn, president of Samson Engineering. "It turned out really beautiful and (Anna Dumas) has got a great team, and I think she’ll do really, really well."
Samson Engineering took possession of the Princess Avenue building in January, and construction began in the spring. Restaurateur Anna Dumas and chef Rebekah Roberts jumped at the chance to take on the unique project, and pledged early on to pay homage to the history of the 104-year-old building.
"It’s part of the community," Roberts said. "A lot of the goodwill that we have already from the community comes because we have redone an historical building and it was part of the … civic aspect of Brandon."
Prairie Firehouse will have a soft opening with invited guests in the coming days, and is expected to open to the public on Thursday. General manager Sarah Barbeau said there are about 40 staff members who attended an orientation in the building yesterday.
The firehall was known as Central Fire Station No. 1 and was built in 1911. The building was designated a municipal heritage site in 2000. Brandon Fire and Emergency Services moved into a new facility on 19th Street North in 2010.
Photos of the building and fire crews throughout the years can be seen on the walls, as well as interesting artifacts that were salvaged from years gone by, including old fire extinguishers and a list of neighbourhood "call boxes."
Dumas spent a lot of time determining the bar menu, coming up with craft cocktails based on common beverages in the 1920s to 1940s era. She carefully chose the barware to ensure they are properly served.
"The ‘Bees Knees’ is going to be the best one on the menu by far," Dumas said. "We use Manitoba honey and make a simple syrup out of it, and then two ounces of gin and lemon juice."
Also on the bar menu is an old-fashioned, cucumber mint julep and Moscow mule, to name a few. The "Chief Melhuish" is named in honour of the building’s first fire chief.
As for the menu, there will be an array of items, including a burger bar, where patrons choose their toppings and "build a burger" at their table.
"Whatever I can do to have the guests interactive with the food ... increases the overall goal of an excellent dining experience," Roberts said.
The menu has vegetarian and vegan options, as well as gluten-free items. The veggie burger, for example, has a vegan aioli instead of mayonnaise. For meat-eaters, the menu offers a variety of options, including steak, brisket and ribs.
A gluten-free cream puff trio, Guinness stout cake and homemade strawberry shortcake are some of the sweeter options.
Roberts said they hope to draw people in for lunch, Sunday brunch and, of course, dinner and drinks. They plan to offer live music at least once a week, and will also bring in Yuk Yuk’s comedians.
"You can come have a nice dinner and celebrate, or you can come and hang out with your friends," Roberts said. "Then afterwards when the music’s playing and the drinks are coming, just have a really good time. We really want it to be ‘the place to be.’"
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