Winnipeg restaurant toasts 90 years of classic cold cuts
Oscar's Deli opened in 1929 in Winnipeg's North End before moving downtown 40 years ago
Winnipeg's Oscar's Deli has been cooking up sizzling corned beef sandwiches from the grill paired with fries since October 1929.
For the last 40 years, the bustling restaurant has been serving up classic cold cuts from its cozy little corner on the main floor of a seven-storey building at 175 Hargrave St.
The family restaurant opened its original location in the North End near St. John's Park on Main Street.
"I remember Saturdays and Sundays, we would go pick up corned beef for supper, and I was this little kid standing in a throng of people waiting at the takeout," said deli owner Larry Brown.
"Must've been 15 or 20 people waiting to pick up their deli meat for the weekend," he said.
"It was the old North End. There was no TV then. People were out and about."
The deli has had a number of owners over the years; Brown took over the restaurant in 1979.
Rachel Brown, his daughter, has joined him in the business. She remembers hanging around during the downtown restaurant's construction when she was four years old.
The deli has gone through some changes, such as adding turkey, ham and meatless options. Corned beef, pastrami and salami sandwiches — with pickles — remain staples.
Oscar's is also now known for its spud, although Larry Brown said he was "very stubborn" and took some convincing before he agreed to add a deep fryer five years ago.
The best compliment he receives is "when people try our fries and say they're better than Kelekis [Restaurant]" — an iconic North End Winnipeg eatery known for its hotdogs and fries before it shuttered its doors in 2013.
Oscar's keeps the Browns on their toes, especially during peak hours.
"Hectic, sometimes madness," Larry said.
A toasted Philly platter with melted cheese alongside homemade fries is another restaurant classic served up at Oscar's.
"Simple is delicious," Rachel said.
The deli will celebrate its birthday by pouring happy hour drinks from 3 to 5 p.m. all month, featuring the 1980s menu with prices from that decade.
LISTEN: Oscar's Deli celebrates 90 years of corned beef and community
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With files from Colton Hutchinson