Saturday, 24 July 2021

Morrison's Restaurant turns 100

Although I don't have an inclination (nor space!) to build a model of City Hall or the ex-K&P station, another downtown fixture in the same city block sure has a long legacy.

Though the early location and history of the restaurant's operation are as cloudy as chicken soup, it seems that Vinny and Irene Morrison began the business in 1921 according to their daughter Eileen. Relocating to Clarence Street, next to the now-gone British-American Hotel (now the location of Sheraton Four Points Hotel) then moving to 318 King Street, next to the Kingston Whig-Standard in 1925. Vinny quit his job with the Grand Trunk Railway to work with Irene, according to Whig columnists Bill Fitsell and Barbara Wamboldt, plus Leroy Burtch, a short order cook at Morrison's for 46 years! More views in this post.

Vinny never turned away a hungry man when the Depression hit Kingston hard. Businesses sent people over with meal tickets, which were honoured. Struggling Queen's students were also looked after. We dined at Morrison's as struggling St Lawrence College students. Hearty, inexpensive and fast!

In 1962, Morrison's was sold to John (worked the till) and Peter (worked the grill) Poulos. The brothers bought local before it was cool - milk from Wilmot's and meat from the Block & Cleaver. A cash register operated at the back entrance, dispensing coffee and sandwiches to newspaper carriers and pressmen at the Whig. City Hall staffers were also regulars. 

In 1990, Morrison's was sold to Chris and Peter Argiris. The menu has been retained with little variation - still club sandwiches, open-faced meat sandwiches and breakfast. The still-operating neon sign on King Street is a favourite with Tripadvisor (both photos) users. Ordering!

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