An iconic piece of North End history is taking up residence in Winnipeg’s Neon Factory – the only sign museum in the city.

The family-run Kelekis Restaurant closed in January 2013 after 81 years of business at the corner of Main Street and Redwood Avenue.

Joe and Mike Wolchock knew right away they wanted the iconic sign for their collection of vintage signs at the Neon Factory – but there was a snag.

Kelekis sign

The iconic sign above Kelekis restaurant, which closed in January 2013 after 81 years in business, was taken down March 27, 2014. (Pat Kaniuga/CBC)

“I remember when they reopened – they [had] closed for renovations and they took down the neon sign, and it reopened and this was the new look,” said Mike.

After the pair picked up the sign and brought it to their shop, they found out it was on the lease from Pattison Sign Group.

“It’s a place I went to as a kid and grew up with. It’s important that we have it instead of going to the scrap yard or in someone else’s collection where it may never be seen again,” said Joe.

It took some negotiating, but the brothers were able to bring it back to their shop after Pattison agreed to donate to the collection.

“[It] took a week and a half of back and forth. The sign travelled around the city, and now, it’s coming back to the shop where it was last Saturday,” said Mike.

The sign will join hundreds of other vintage pieces in the Main Street gallery, including the original Kelekis neon sign it replaced in the 1970s.

“I live in the North End. I grew up in the North End, and I think saving some of the past – it’s important to me,” said Mike.

Now, anyone who wants to see the little piece of Winnipeg’s past can visit it on the weekend.

The Neon Factory opens their doors every Saturday to visitors who want to see the collection.