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Booker's (Cgy)

Bob Mac Jun 5, 2009 08:18 AM

When we were down in Calgary a couple of weeks ago we wandered over to Booker's [much nicer "environment" since the Cecil was closed down] with the intention of picking up some chicken and ribs take-out to bring back to the hotel for dinner.

It seemed too quiet and we realized why upon reading a note that said they were closed until mid-June.

I know that on an earlier trip one of the bartenders had said that the owners were intending on expanding back into the area of the main building that was currently occupied by other businesses. Not sure whether that was/is true or not.

The mid-June reopening makes sense if they intend to be fully operational when the Stampede opens in July.

Anyone know?

We are back in town overnite next week-end and just planning our itinerary as this will be a very quick one. Will try to make time to get down to Montreal Bagels for another shipment to bring back home with us to Edmonton.

  1. f
    Fid Jun 5, 2009 08:42 AM

    Not sure if you saw the news about the owner passing away last autumn and leaving the restaurant to his 6 year-old daughter.

    Since the construction in the area closed down the main street access to the place, Booker's has been losing a lot of money; thus, the closure. It's a heartbreaking story, and hopefully, the restaurant will be able to survive.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Fid
      Bob Mac Jun 5, 2009 08:56 AM


      Thanks very much for the Calgary Sun article as it answers a lot of my questions.

      No I had been aware of the owner having passed away.

      The surrounding may be less unsavoury without the Cecil's "crack heads" across the street but the writer is certain correct about the dust, dirt, transportaton and obstruction issues that we climbed and walked around during our last visit on the family day week-end.

      Much appreciated...hope all goes well for the young girl and the employees and business itself.

      1. re: Fid
        tex_in_yyc Sep 16, 2009 04:49 AM

        Wow...some story. I didn't even realize that they had closed down for a bit. I've been there once or twice and found the food OK, never liked the hassle of getting there or the gamut of the homeless in the parking lot.

        I will have to make a point of stopping by there again.

      2. c
        cancowboy Sep 15, 2009 09:17 PM

        Mentioned in David Parker's column in the Herald today.
        "It's good to see that Bookers BBQ Grill& Crab Shack is reopening this weekend on 3rd Street S. E. just off Riverfront Avenue with a new look, new menu and new staff."

        Or maybe today - web splashpage says today.

        4 Replies
        1. re: cancowboy
          TSAW Sep 18, 2009 06:25 PM

          In the past I have been a little confused about this place. It says BBQ & Crab shack, but is it really both?I don't recall seeing much crab on the menu. Last time I was there (Jan. 09) the food was really bad. I had jambalaya, and it was frozen in the middle.

          I really hope they are successful. It's a great location for pre-hockey dinners. And we need a restaurant BBQ place downtown (sorry - Palomino, although tasty & fun, is not a 'restaurant', in my mind).

          I think I will give another go, AFTER opening weekend! Would like to hear what others have to say about it, after the re-opening.

          1. re: TSAW
            23skidoo Sep 18, 2009 06:32 PM

            I'm imagining a Rasoi-like restaurant take on BBQ with tiny portions.
            No thanks, I'll take Palomino!

            But you're right, I don't remember much crab at Booker's, other than the all-you-can-eat crab night once a week. Or much BBQ. The ribs and chicken tasted a bit like the stuff at Montana's.

            1. re: 23skidoo
              miss.foodie Sep 18, 2009 10:38 PM

              Just curious if you guys have tried Palomino lately. I haven't been for a couple of months so I'm curious if the food is still good. My favourite has always been the garlic fries and the smoked 1/2 chicken. The kansas ribs are pretty good as well.

              1. re: miss.foodie
                23skidoo Sep 28, 2009 04:58 PM

                Went to Palomino a few weeks ago. The Alberta beef shortribs were excellent, and they had a really nice carrot garlic soup.

        2. n
          nonlinear Sep 18, 2009 07:15 PM

          i've never been to Booker's, but have only heard great things (not sure if on here or beyond.ca) until reading the last few comments in this thread. it's definitely on my list of places to visit... just have to get around to making it down that way. would like to hear more from people who have been there.

          1. m
            miss.foodie Sep 18, 2009 10:26 PM

            Booker's has changed hands a couple of times over the years. At one point, it was even part of the Vintage Group (Vintage Chophouse, Redwater Grille, etc). In any case, I've noticed the food quality slide and the portions get smaller over the years. I used to go there a lot for our annual Stampede function as well. I think they had their best years back around 2004/2005. I used to love their crab dip appetizer and their dry ribs. I even had shark steak their once during the playoffs when the Flames played the Sharks back in 2004. I used to love Booker's back in the day when they still have the license plate menus and served the food on metal platters before they starting going up-scale and serving meals on giant white plates. They used to have half decent pulled pork and brisket as well. Back in the day, they used to have this "garbage-can platter" for 4 people that had a bit of everything including crab. When the license plate menus disappeared, I noticed that the menu was scaled down significantly. And as of recent, I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend Booker's. I hope the re-opening helps to turn business around for them and I hope they improve on the menu and the quality of food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: miss.foodie
              seemac70 Sep 19, 2009 06:17 AM

              It sucks, basically...

            2. 2
              23skidoo Sep 25, 2009 05:46 PM

              They are definitely open. A friend of mine is playing in a cover band there tonight.

              The website has been updated, but unfortunately the menu page is blank.

              1. l
                L.C. Sep 25, 2009 06:54 PM

                Word on the street it's being redone by the same crew who opened Rush last year.

                1. maplesugar Sep 26, 2009 06:10 PM

                  The latest incarnation is owned by the Vintage Group - Gilchrist's article from the Herald on the 20th: http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Boo...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maplesugar
                    23skidoo Sep 28, 2009 04:56 PM

                    A return to actual BBQ and seafood, and the reappearance of the trash can lids... I will have to check this place out soon!

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