BARRY’S BAY – It will be a sad day in September when an iconic Barry’s Bay business will close its doors for good.
Family confirmed that Palubeski’s Variety on Opeongo Line will be closing after this summer, but an exact day has yet to be announced.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Carman Palubiski admitted. “But we are getting old and it’s time to move on.”
The business originally started in the late 1940s by Ambrose Palubiski and Jean (nee Chippior of Wilno.)
Ambrose worked odd jobs throughout his young life, doing everything from working in the mines to selling perfume. Jean was a homemaker and often cleaned houses.
The couple had been living in Windsor, where they were married, when they decided to return to Ambrose’s hometown of Barry’s Bay and start a family. They were blessed with seven children including Carman, Donald, Joan, Mary Jane, Lois, Suzanne and Sylvia.
After renting a house on Opeongo Line, the couple bought the property right next door. When Ambrose and Jean were 37 years old, they decided it was time to own their own business and built a restaurant beside their house.
It was called the Gray Lunch, although Carman, who was six years old when it opened, said his father wanted to name it Jean’s Place.
“She wouldn’t go for it,” Carman laughed. “I have no idea where the Gray Lunch came from, maybe because the building was gray.”
Because the restaurant required lots of water, Carman said rainwater was collected on the roof. In fact, the roof was designed with large cavities that would collect the water and drain it into special reserves to utilize later.
However, this posed a problem in the wintertime. Snow would collect and add weight to the building. The windows eventually started to crack and the roof needed to be replaced.
“So my dad said, ‘If I have to put a new roof on, I might as well put another storey on,’” Carman said.
Apartments were added and the family found renters to occupy them.
Carman remembers his parents being good cooks.
“Mom said one morning before the restaurant opened, she had 45 pies baked,” Carman said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I remember her telling me that.”
Despite his young age, he recalls the Gray Lunch as being a busy spot. They would open in the early morning hours to meet the breakfast rush and stay open until 11 p.m. and sometimes longer.
Story continues in the August 21, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette