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Day's End at the Days Inn

Ladles Soup and Sandwich, George the barber, and Riley's Pub in search of new homes

Days Inn.jpg
The Days Inn (formerly the Simon Fraser Inn) in downtown Prince George is shutting its doors ahead of a planned sale and renovation.

The Days Inn Hotel (formerly the Simon Fraser Inn) in Prince George is closing its doors. The plan is for it to be sold but before that can happen everything, including some long-time tenants must be cleared out.

Listen to George the barber and other tenants of the Days Inn talk about their future plans:
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George the barber

This includes George K. Blanis, who opened his barbershop in the hotel with his father in October 1964. He was hoping to celebrate 50 years at the location, but was given three weeks notice that he had to gone by the end of March.

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"George the barber" cuts the hair of a longtime customer. After nearly fifty years in this location, he has to clear out by the end of March.

"It changed my life," he says. "Unfortunately I know I'm not going to be a barber forever, but I was hoping to get my fiftieth year here, would have been nice to tell everyone in Prince George and all the friends and customers, more or less all the citizens of Prince George, thank them for the years they've supported me."

At age 77, Blanis is hoping to find a partner and celebrate fifty years in the city in a new location.

"Stay tuned, that's all I can say."

Riley's Pub

Riley's Pub is hoping to reopen in a new location after leaving the Days Inn.

Riley's Pub is also hoping their closure will be temporary. For the past two years, bartender and manager Justin Basi has been building a community at the pub, holding concerts, blues nights and even meatdraws in partnership with different community groups.

"Just a nice place where people can come in, have drinks, and enjoy music from some great bands from around here," is how Basi describes the pub.

Basi's looking on the bright side, though. He's scouting out new locations where the pub can reopen, better than ever.

"It's always going to be that place, when you walk by it'll be 'oh yeah, that was Riley's'," he says. "But I'm more excited to move on and try to open another place that I think is a better location."

Ladles Soup and Sandwich

Happy customers from around the world have covered the counter at Ladles with signatures and messages marking their visits.

While George's and Riley's are hoping to reopen in a new location, the closing of the Days Inn could also spell the end for the popular Ladles Soup and Sandwich.

Chef and owner Sean Mears was already planning on leaving before he got word of the impending shutdown. He's engaged and planning on moving to Prince Edward Island after the wedding. But he had hoped to have more time to try and find a new owner- he says he's having a tough time making a sale without a new location.

Even if Mears does find someone to take over, his sole employee Shane Ziglin isn't sure things would be quite the same without Mears behind the ladle.

"He gets here at like three in the mornings, and he's still making the soups, like they're not totally finished by ten."

Mears has thought about writing down the recipes, but he's not sure what use they would be since he never takes measurements. Not that this method has caused him any trouble- Ziglin says its common for a line to start at 11 with no chance to slow down before they close at 2.

For now, fans of Mears' soup are making sure they get one final taste. One man ordered four days worth of his favourite flavour.

A few years ago, Mears put up a small sign saying "Best Soup in Town: If you agree, please sign." Before long, the whole thing was covered, so people started writing on the wall and counter.

Today, there are hundreds of signatures from people all around the world sprawled out here.

"Came here with my driving instructor before my test," reads one message. "Wish me luck."
"Feeding my four month baby belly," says another.

Sean's not sure what he's going to do with these messages when he leaves. Like George the barber, he's hoping some portions of his shop might be worth preserving in the local museum.

One of the newest messages is written on a door, away from the jumble of the rest.

It reads simply, "Gonna miss this place Sean."

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