Today is the last day of operations for the 93 year-old Novia Café on 12th Ave.
Maybe no one will miss it that much. After all, the Novia of the past decade was a shadow of the original establishment that first opened in 1918. Still, it’s hard not to think about what might have been.
Old diners in other cities are now regularly taken over by young, savvy business people who see the potential in their beauty, character, and history. Sometimes they maintain the menu (albeit with some healthier additions) and other times they revamp it entirely, following more contemporary trends in cuisine. The Novia could have filled either role in Regina’s gastronomical scene. But not any more. Today the restaurant closes, and any hope of opening something like that in its place will be gutted along with what is left of the Novia’s original interior.
This is infuriating, but who’s to blame? The landlord who wouldn’t offer a lease, thus discouraging any proprietor from investing in upgrades? The construction of City Square, which took place over the past year on the Novia’s doorstep? The proprietor who wouldn’t open on weekends even when the Farmer’s Market and the Folk Festival brought thousands of people to the downtown?
Maybe we’re all to blame; Us, the people of Regina, who don’t seem terribly interested in hanging onto things (namely pieces of our shared heritage) and have thus allowed the destruction of buildings like the Capital Theatre, and the McCallum-Hill, and the old City Hall and (insert your own favourite heritage building that has been knocked down).
Regina is unlike any other city I’ve seen. Over the years, the evacuation and demolition of its once beautiful downtown has left the place pockmarked with parking lots and eyesores. Now one more piece of the downtown is heading out the door.
(photo of Novia Café via National Post)