A widely loved and established franchise in the Pembina Valley is celebrating the grand opening of its new location in Winkler. Smitty's, located in the Quality Inn & Suites at the corner of Main Street and Highway 14, has been serving all your favourites for several months now, but is holding its official ribbon cutting today (Friday, July 21st)

"After doing some research, I found the Smitty’s franchise is an extremely supportive franchise to work with, and considering it was already established and loved in this community, we found it was the best choice to go with," said Owner Angelina Fehr. "We found, although there are many other options we could have brought to this community, Smitty’s has a lot of pros. For example, we have the Family Restaurant, as well as a Lounge, we have an affordable menu considering how costs have gone up since Covid, and we get to serve breakfast all day."

And those menu choices are something many in the Pembina Valley are very familiar with.

"Our core menu is made by the franchise, (and) they have made some changes over the last couple years" noted Kitchen Manager Carmen Hildebrandt. "They are really trying to round out our menu with lunch and dinner. Although breakfast is still our biggest seller, we are definitely promoting that we are more than just breakfast. As for the lounge menu, that is where we can be a little creative, and choose what to add to it, make it our own. We just barely revamped our Lounge menu, and added quite a few new items!"

Friday's ribbon cutting is happening at 11:30am, with $2 off all regular priced meals for the entire day, and a patio party beginning at 5pm, with live music throughout the evening.

Meanwhile, there is a giveaway today, a 12 foot inflatable paddle board. Any bill over $50 in the lounge gets to put a ballot in. It will be drawn on August 7th.

people doing a ribbon cutting in front of a building

"I started working in this industry when I was 16 years old," explained Fehr when asked about her experience in the hospitality sector. "I had taken a break when I had my children, and then in 2014 started a business with my husband, and I have managed that company for the past nine years. This is putting the experience of the two together."

Hildebrandt has a similar background in the business, also starting as a teenager.

"I started working in the restaurant business when I was 15 as a dishwasher, and then moved on to being a server," she shared. "I was a server for about seven years, and at that time I was wanting a change, so I quit my job as a server. I then got a cooking job with my mom, and I really enjoyed working alongside her and learning from her."

Since the restaurant opened, it has hosted regular band nights, karaoke nights, patio parties. The duo noted they have a few more ideas up their sleeves for the Fall. They are always looking for more local talent to showcase in the venue, and if you are interested, you can reach out to Angie or Carmen at the restaurant.

"We post our events on our Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as put up posters within the venue to keep our guests in the know," they said.

Having been in the restaurant business for years, both point to the people they meet every day as what they enjoy most.

"It’s so interesting meeting such a wide variety of people, and hearing their stories," said Fehr. "It is fascinating."

"I love that you never know what is going to happen from one day to the next," explained Hildebrandt. "It's always something new, and I have met many great people along the way. Also, the rush when it is crazy busy, and being able to get food out the door to our guests in a timely manner is exciting. The feeling of success is always worth the stress."

With Summer weather returning this weekend, including lots of sunshine and daytime highs in the upper twenties and low thirties, the staff at Smitty's Winkler would love to see you check out their patio. A beautiful new bar has been added to it, and there are several summer specials to go with it. They have a number of local craft beers on offer, and Smitty's promotional Summer beverages are pineapple themed. And don't forget about the Corona special on the patio all Summer long!

Restaurant hours are Monday to Saturday 7am – 10pm and Sunday 8am to 8pm. Lounge hours are Monday to Thursday 11am to 11pm, Friday 11am to 12am, Saturday 9am to 12am and Sunday 9am to 10pm.

You can call the restaurant to make a reservation at (204) 325-8799.

people doing a ribbon cutting in front of a building