Manitoba

Iconic Winnipeg ice cream parlour demolished

Rubble is all that remains of Banana Boat, an iconic Winnipeg ice cream shop.

Owner hopes new shop in new digs will keep customers coming back

Rubble is all that remains of the Banana Boat ice cream shop. The business has been demolished but is set to reopen in a new building at its current site in South Osborne next year. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Rubble is all that remains of an iconic Winnipeg ice cream shop. 

Construction crews have demolished Banana Boat, a South Osborne ice cream parlour, but the owner of the shop plans to reopen the business in a new building next spring. 

The Winnipeg icon was originally slated for demolition last October but because of construction delays, it stayed open until it was demolished on July 1.

Hui Chen purchased the ice cream shop a few years ago after her family immigrated to Canada.  

Her nephew, Xu Chen, said the business has been a labour of love for the family of three. 

Banana Boat was Chen's first job since coming to Canada from China.  

"It's really sad for me because Banana Boat's building is kind of a memory of mine for myself," Chen told CBC Radio on Monday afternoon.

"Banana Boat has become a part of my life."

Chen said the building, built in the 1950's, was old and in need of repairs.  

"The air conditioning system was not that good," he said.  

"It was always really hot in the summer time to stand inside the store." 

Customers sad to see icon torn down  

Chen said many customers are shocked by the closure. 

"There were lots of people coming to our store and ask us, 'What happened?'"  

Linda Michaud is one of those customers. She went to get ice cream Sunday and said she was surprised to see the building torn down.  

"I'm sad. They had good ice cream," she said.  

Chen said his family hopes to be back in business by next spring.  

He said the owner of the land Banana Boat sits on is constructing a two-storey building that will house apartments and a new Banana Boat on the main floor. 

If all goes according to plan, the building will be finished next February, and the ice cream shop will open in May or June.   

Chen said they will have an expanded selection of ice cream after the family buys new ice cream machines. 

"We will try to make it as quick as possible," he said.  

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