A legendary bar owner from rural Manitoba is going out of business — leaving people in Tolstoi without her signature drink.

Elsie Kolodzinski, 88, has run the Tolstoi Hotel since 1940.  The years have flown by, she told CBC News on Tuesday, a day after a party was held at the hotel in her honour.

"It was unreal how people from around Manitoba come to see me, to shake hands and give me a hug and taste my Caesar with a pickle in it," she said.

The explanation for her unique drink innovation is simple, Kolodzinski said. "When you go to the store, you buy celery. And we're out in the country, and it wilts. So I figured, I'm going to do my own. I'm going to put in a pickle."

Aside from a desire to retire after 68 years in business, Kolodzinski blamed population decline in the area for the bar's closure.

"A lot of people have moved away. A lot of young clientele have gone to Winnipeg," she said. "There's very few farmers around here [and they're] retired, so I did, too."

Fewer than 2,000 people live in the entire Rural Municipality of Franklin, which includes the communities of Dominion City, Arnaud and Roseau River, as well as Tolstoi, a hamlet near the American border on Highway 59. 

Kolodzinski said she feels "splendid," and is looking forward to enjoying retirement in Tolstoi.