author: ethan williams | staff writer
Chris Plumb finds groove with Cathedral diner
Chris Plumb was driving past a small building along 13th Avenue in Regina’s Cathedral neighbourhood one day when it caught his eye. He knew he wanted to do something with it.
“I had my eye on that location for two or three years leading up to finally getting my hands on it.”
Plumb, the owner of the Mercury Cafe and Grill, had previously owned the Novia Cafe, a downtown spot to grab coffee or lunch, before it closed in 2011. He wanted to open a restaurant in the Cathedral neighbourhood space, and after the building changed hands a few times, he finally had his chance.
“In November 2009, I drove by and it looked like it had been vacant. So, I popped in to see the barber next door. He was the one that owned the building. And he said it was vacant, so I said I’d sign the lease right now, so I did.”
Plumb says he modeled the Mercury after the Novia, hence the 50’s diner style, and the doors opened on April 10, 2010. “The Merc”, as it has affectionately become known as, definitely has some advantages over other restaurants, according to Plumb.
“There aren’t any diners in town anymore, so I think we’re set aside because we’re the only diner. Outside of the that, we do everything fresh. All these other places do breakfast prefabricated.”
In addition, the restaurant added a DJ night a few years ago. Plumb says the event was held on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We were closing the restaurant around eight or nine o’clock at night and I thought ‘let’s give this a shot’. I knew somebody who was a DJ and we thought we would just do it. So, I rented some equipment and it went really well. We got about seventy or eighty people out.”
Since that night, the restaurant continued a weekly tradition of hosting DJ nights, and has expanded to other acts.
“We expanded from just DJ’s to all kinds of live events. We’ve had stand up comedy, we’ve had poetry slams, karaoke night, all kinds of things.”
Plumb says he doesn’t know if his restaurant was one of the first places in town to set a trend of pairing live music with food, but he believes the Mercury was first for another reason.
“I think we were probably one of the only ones that was more of a restaurant. I know that, obviously, nightclubs and taverns and stuff were doing it.”
Plumb did point to the Utopia Cafe, which operated on Dewdney Avenue, as possibly being another restaurant that offered live entertainment.
As for what he recommends to grab at “The Merc,” Plumb says it’s got to be the milkshakes or burgers.
“The milkshakes are a big hit. They’re old-school made, just ice cream and milk. And the burgers are a big portion of our business.”
He also noted that the Mercury’s burgers have been nominated as one of Regina’s best.
“I believe they are the best, and maybe I’m being biased, but I don’t think I am.”
In the future, Plumb says he hopes to open another restaurant to specialize in breakfast foods.
“We’re not sure if we’re going to stick with the same concept or branch off and do something a little different but I know there is some demand in town for some more breakfast places.”
For information about upcoming performances at the Mercury, and to learn more about their menu, you can head to the restaurant at 2936 13th Avenue. Just look for the rocket on the roof.