Model Milk building news

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Model Milk building news

Postby Bob van Wegen » Wed May 17, 2006 12:22 pm

:arrow: Updated December 2011, see bottom post...

Undated photo, probably from the 1940s. Thanks to Cameron G.

Model Milk
308 – 17th Avenue SW

This unusual moderne-style building and the annex to the west has been the home of Victoria's Restaurant and a series of nightclubs in recent years. The back of annex housed Goliath's Sauna, a gay bathhouse that was famously (or infamously) raided by Calgary Police in December of 2002.

In 2005 developers proposed a very high density condo on the site, and had a plan that would preserve much of Model Milk's facade. But high density zoning on 17th Avenue was not supported in the new Beltline Area Redevelopment Plan, and the condo proposal seems to have faded.

:D A 'reinvented' Victoria's Bistro and Lounge will be re-opening in Summer 2006 under the guidance of well-known restauranteur Witold Twardowski, who is known for making the most of unique settings.

Some history:

 In 1932 rancher James Colpitts started a company to market milk from his dairy farm in Springbank.
 In 1934 he moved into this building and established a modern processing plant.
 Installed a high temperature pasteurization system developed in England.
 Set up on three floors for production methods using gravity to their advantage.
 No wood was used in the construction of this building – sanitation reasons.
 Made entirely of brick, very expensive during the depression.
 Milk bottles decorate the building – the idea of contractor Fred Jones. Tombstone masons probably made these.
 First dairy to use trucks for distribution. In the 1930s 5 trucks delivered milk, at the peak of business they had 85 trucks.
 In the 1960s, it was the largest producing dairy in Alberta.
 Sold to Palm Dairies in 1965
(Thanks to Victoria Crossing for this information)

 For many years the dairy served milkshakes and 5 cent ice cream cones from its own milk bar (Harry Sanders, Historic Walks of Calgary).
Last edited by Bob van Wegen on Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby newsposter » Fri Jul 07, 2006 11:00 am

FFWD article on the Summer 2006 revival of Victoria's Restaurant in the historic Model Milk Dairy. See above for more about this building... ... tlife5.htm
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Postby newsposter » Sat Aug 19, 2006 8:53 pm

The new Victoria's restaurant in the historic Model Milk building opens to the public on August 25. See above and below for more.

Victoria's is shaping up to be regal downtown presence

David Parker
Calgary Herald

Friday, August 18, 2006

One of this city's most passionate designers is directing renovations that will see yet another of his restaurant creations open by the end of this month.

Witold Twardowski's talents can be seen in the recently renovated Timberline Inn and the new Bison Bistro in Banff. He also just opened, as part owner, the Reader's Garden Cafe in the Reader Rock Garden.

Those projects must have sapped a lot of energy, but when Larry Ryder, owner of the Model Dairy Building on the corner of 17th Avenue and 2nd Street S.W., called and asked what could be done with the former restaurant and nightclub space, Twardowski couldn't resist the challenge.

Many of us can still remember it as a great place for an ice cream cone, but for more than 25 years the building has housed a restaurant. Victoria's Restaurant has been closed since January, as have the adjoining club spaces.

There was a thought to change the name, but Twardowski says it is located in Victoria Crossing and the Queen was quite an interesting gal. And on my tour among painters and plumbers I noticed a pile of Victoriana that it would be a shame to not use.

But the new style will be very different. It is meant to appeal to the corporate crowd with a touch of Bohemia.

I was amazed at the size of the building and the maze of spaces within. The restaurant-bistro where I found at least five alcoves will have an entrance from 2nd Street while two other separate entrances along 17th Avenue take you into a bakery and a huge bar, both with outside patio areas. Twardowski has scored a home run with the hiring of Lisa Cheah to run his bakery; she formerly ran Charlie's Bakery in Kensington and has a great reputation within the industry.

The bar has been opened up to allow more light and will seat between 80 and 100 in nice antique style furniture around marble tables.

Another smaller bar at the back with space for another 30 -- probably smokers -- will keep the diesel and oil deco .

I admit to not having been in Victoria's for many a year and had no idea of the size of the area behind the restaurant. Twardowski is turning this amazing space that has several levels and high skylights into a ballroom. And then up the curved, metal railing staircase I discovered the second floor along the whole length of the building.

This will become a classy event room that has already been booked for a number of corporate functions.

All of the equipment in the central kitchen and in-house bakery is new, and new flooring and furniture has required a fairly large investment.

As design partner, Twardowski has done a remarkable job in reinterpreting the former spaces into one unit. John Landry is the operating partner and Andrea Unger is general manager.

Victoria's Bistro and Lounge should attract a more mature crowd to 17th Avenue; it's a ways east of the Red Mile and will benefit from more accessible parking. It's good to see such a fine old building put to good use -- be sure to notice the sculptured milk bottles above the second floor windows, reminders of its original purpose...
Last edited by newsposter on Sun Mar 25, 2007 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby newsposter » Wed Sep 06, 2006 1:33 pm

The Model Milk building, home of the newly opened Victoria's (see above), was been marketed by its owners. The asking price was $14,500,000 :shock: The listing was formerly at
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Postby newsposter » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:28 pm

The Model Milk building is to be the home of the re-born Republik and a couple of other night spots. Herald story: ... 06&k=54847
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Postby newsposter » Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:31 pm

Well, the Republik has not operated for a year - what's up? Not a roof problem apparently, but interior renos that violated planning permission. See this FFWD story about the present and potential future of the historic Model Milk building (and business). Let's hope all works out.

City keeps Republik club door closed until further notice
FFWD Weekly, Sept 3, 2009 ... club-4383/
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Postby newsposter » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:51 pm

Well, looks like the Republik is re-opening at it's most long-standing former location, the 1895 Costigan house at 217 - 17th Avenue SW, which was most recently Tequila. (Newsposter has many fond memories of the old Republik in the 80s and 90s, and a few gaps where fond memories were erased by triple gin and tonics on Thursday nights.)

Here is a link to the thread about the Costigan house (also former home of Sam Steele) ... =1298#1298

No news on what will happen to the Model Milk Building

FFWD Story, Nov. 19, 2009 ... spot-4829/
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Postby newsposter » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:33 am

Another year, another update to the thread on this great building. According to the City Palate, Jan 2010 edition,
Look for a spring opening of Model Milk in the old Model Milk Dairy building on 17th Ave. and 2nd St. SW. Justin Leboe, who made memorable food at Rush, is chef and part owner, along with the Concorde Entertainment Group. Model Milk will be a contemporary bistro where the kitchen will play with interesting flavours and textures while the front will be casual – “affordable dining for any night of the week,” says Leboe.

A great use for a great building...
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Postby RedAndWhite » Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:41 am

Agreed, I didn't like the idea of a nightclub. The construction that has been done thus far seems very positive, and it has been rumored that the developers are using structural foam in place of the aging materials from the original building. It should be stronger than ever.
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Postby newsposter » Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:56 pm

Model Milk restaurant opened in the namesake building to great reviews and big crowds in the summer of 2011. Great adaptive re-use of this space.
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