Favourite local place that no longer exists

Emily Christie (Supplied)

1. The Tallest Poppy

2. Music Trader

3. Cousin’s Deli

For its comfort food and community support, epic drag brunches and service that slapped, The Tallest Poppy was an unrivalled space that will be missed.

This beloved eatery was a Winnipeg gathering spot for 15 years. After moving from its Main Street location to Sherbrook Street in 2014, it closed its doors one last time in June of 2023.

Talia Syrie, former owner of The Tallest Poppy, credits her staff for making it such a special place.

“We were always more than the sum of our parts,” Syrie says in reference to the steadfast “weirdos” who made the Poppy a memorable and inclusive space. “You didn’t realize how much you needed to see them.”

Syrie, a keen observer of Winnipeg culture, finds this nomination “a bit obnoxious.”

“We never really placed on the (Uniter 30) list when we were open, which is so quintessentially Winnipeg,” she says, noting the community’s proclivity for enshrining retired institutions in memoria, like the drive-in movie theatre.

Syrie does, however, credit their loyalty. “Once they’ve signed on, they’re in it forever. They’ll go down with the ship.”

She cites the building’s broken ventilation and make-air systems as the cause for rendering the Poppy’s kitchen and dining area “untenable.”

“We were evicted,” Syrie says of the tenant-owner stalemate. “He (the landlord) just said, ‘I’m not fixing them.’ And we couldn’t legally operate without them.”

Though she has no plans for a third Poppy incarnation, Syrie will miss her staff and customers.

“I’m very grateful to the people that made up our community. They’re a pretty fierce bunch of folks. I hold them in very high regard,” she says.

For those missing the Poppy (and their fried chicken), Syrie and long-time collaborator Synonym Art Consultation will host a New Year’s Day drag brunch at The Forks.

Published in Volume 78, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2023)

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