Letter: Sadness as beloved 293 Wallace restaurant shuts its doors

Letter: Remembering a collaboration worthy of the big screen as 293 Wallace shuts its doors

Editor,

September is a dark month for the Hope Film Club.

Not only is there no feature presentation for this month (we’re back October 25 with “2001: A Space Odyssey”), but also we have received the news that 293 Wallace Street Restaurant will be closing its doors September 30.

Locally, I believe this announcement has caused some shock waves over the past few days. If you had not heard this news or if you do not live locally, I am sure that you can appreciate what a vital hub this refined restaurant has been for so many people in our small town.

On behalf of the Hope Film Club, I would like to say how much we appreciated the partnership we had with you and your team. I feel that it was kind of serendipitous that Hiro was taking over and transforming Joe’s into 293 Wallace Street Restaurant right at the time we were starting our monthly vintage film series as a fundraising effort for the movie theatre. From the earliest days, you guys embraced the challenge of creating monthly specials and thematic menu linkages to the films that so many of us looked forward to. We have all had so many great memories in your restaurant.

The professionalism and care you and your staff showed was beyond compare with anything else in our little town. This is not meant as a slight to every other food establishment, just an acknowledgment that 293 operated in a different kind of space than everything else in our town. I really appreciated how the work ethos you tried to foster in all of your employees was a high-performing industry standard for culinary and service excellence. Not just a ‘good enough for a Hope clientele’ attitude, but rather a level of achievement that would have been on par with some of the best dining in the big city down the road!

Your creative efforts were always appreciated more than I think you may have known. I seriously can’t even count the number of conversations I have had with friends and relatives over the years, with people who live so far away from here, but who, when I would tell them about our little Film Club and our retro film series and our partnership with this amazing, local, fresh, restaurant and the monthly special menu creations, would always smile and remark how amazing that sounded! Their eyes would literally pop out when I would describe what you had done for events like “The Shining” (the murder scene and bone marrow) or “The Wizard of Oz” (the Black & White appetizer, the Ruby Red and Yellow Brick Road main, and the Emerald City dessert) or “Dirty Dancing” (the South-Asian pot roast). So many people I know felt that Hope was that much more of an amazing place with the simple knowledge that things like this happened there. There were others who even vowed to make a special trip to Hope just to partake in the festivities!

I listed some reference points as highlights above, though there were so many and so many I wished we could have had again. The Cuban-themed “JFK” burger! The schnitzel with noodle “The Sound of Music”! The pasta dish for “The Godfather”! As the legacy of our events has grown, it’s been a tonne of fun to pull out these collections of past menus at some of our ‘anniversary’ events (this last season saw us cross our 60th event and celebrate our 5th birthday!). The only downside to this impressive display of your culinary creativity is that it certainly makes me mourn (and my stomach whimper) over the loss of what a menu for “2001: A Space Odyssey” may have looked (or tasted) like. What would you have done with “Return of the Jedi”? Or “Fiddler on the Roof”? “The Deer Hunter”? “Goodfellas”? There were so many more we had hoped for…

Surely many of you participated in some of the pre-film event special menu dinners that the creative staff at 293 Wallace, lead by Head Chef Brent Gillis (and Hiro Takeda before him), had prepared over the years. The organizing members of the Hope Film Club certainly anticipated with delight the announcement of the monthly features and would marvel at the playfulness and attention to detail that would go into so many of these thematically-linked dishes. It was a wonder to us that so much effort and care would go into some brand new menu items that were usually available only for one night. It made the events that much more special and ones not to be missed.

If you weren’t able to make it to many of the 293 Wallace film club dinners, we hope that just knowing about these special nights brought a smile to your day on many occasions. It is nice knowing that fun things are happening in this world sometimes!

On that note, even though we are very sad to lose this amazing partner to our monthly classic film nights, we hope that everyone at 293 Wallace is able to find the next path of happiness and fulfillment needed in their lives.

I had these feelings bubbling for the past few days before I was able to set my fingers to the keyboard, but it is so important that you know how much we appreciated calling 293 Wallace an integral part of the fabric of Hope (and the film club).

Your efforts made these past 5+ years so much more fun for us, 293 staff, and you will be sorely missed!

Sincerely and with much love and appreciation.

Jon Polishak

Hope Film Club Member

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