RAW:almond heads to Churchill

Winnipeg pop-up restaurant RAW:almond will open inside Fort Prince of Wales in Churchill in early March to take advantage of clear skies for the northern lights. Organizers are still working on prices, but hope to serve 20 people per night March 1, 2 and 3.

Restaurant will be set up in Fort Prince of Wales to protect patrons from polar bears

Fort Prince of Wales at Churchill will be the next location for the RAW:almond pop-up restaurant. (Courtesy Joe Kalturnyk)

The people who brought the RAW:almond pop-up restaurant to the river ice at The Forks in Winnipeg are taking the concept to Manitoba's northern frontier.

RAW:almond will open in Churchill for seatings March 1, 2 and 3.

Founder Joe Kalturnyk said he started looking at the idea in the fall when someone suggested he and partner Mandel Hitzer take the pop-up restaurant idea to the ice in Churchill — a proposal he first dismissed because of the danger from polar bears.

"I thought, no, I don't think that's very cool, because it's actually very dangerous," said Kalturnyk, whose wife used to work in Churchill.

"It's not like sort of dangerous, or perception of danger, it's actually very dangerous. And then I said, 'Hey, I'd like to propose doing what we do at The Forks in the Prince of Wales Fort.'"
The RAW:almond Churchill restaurant will be inside the Fort Prince of Wales on March 1, 2 and 3. (Courtesy Joe Kalturnyk)

Fort Prince of Wales is a stone structure built between 1733 and 1771 in Churchill, which calls itself the polar bear capital of the world.

"The walls are quite high. I mean, it's meant so that people can't get in. We have Parks Canada on board, and they have their trained staff to deal with polar bears in case there's something roaming around," Kalturnyk said.

Details are still being worked out, but people would be brought in by tundra buggy for a world-class meal under a clear roof, so patrons can see the northern lights.

Kalturnyk wants to keep the number of people fairly small — around 20 per night — to maintain the intimate dining experience of the restaurant at The Forks, which is erected on the river ice at the popular downtown Winnipeg attraction for several weeks each winter.
The 2015 version of the RAW:almond restaurant was sold out before it even opened. (

Frontiers North Adventures, Parks Canada and Travel Manitoba are on board and helping plan possible packages to bring people to Churchill for the event.

Kalturnyk hopes to keep the prices reasonable.

"I'm just interested in people experiencing these things. I really want Winnipeggers to know this is a really amazing opportunity, because there's people coming from all over the world that are going to Churchill, and every year I've been up there, and I'll sit in the diner and you hear accents from all over the world and you don't really hear as many people coming up from Winnipeg," Kalturnyk said.

More details about the event are expected over the coming weeks.


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