Lenny Burger closes its doors, building soon up for sale

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Store manager Belen Baltazar, left, and co-owner Sasha Jason stand by the counter in The Lenny Burger when it opened in December. Jessica Davey-Quantick/ NNSL photo
Store manager Belen Baltazar, left, and co-owner Sasha Jason stand by the counter in The Lenny Burger when it opened in December. Jessica Davey-Quantick/ NNSL photo

Barely five months after opening, Lenny Burger is getting ready to fry its last chicken.

The restaurant’s owners took to Facebook Monday to announce the restaurant would be closing permanently on June 10.

“This was not an easy decision to take,” stated the owners on the Lenny Burger Facebook page. “(We) understand that it will come as quite a surprise or shock to many people. Especially because we have received unbelievable support from not only the community of Yellowknife, but the Northwest Territories as a whole, and even beyond in some cases.”

The restaurant opened on Dec. 29, after a yearlong delay. Co-owned by Sasha Jason and her brother Matthew, Lenny Burger dished up burgers and fried chicken from the storefront once occupied by KFC, which was operated by two generations of the Jason family, for a time in conjunction with the original Lenny Burger.

“There’s just a lot of history in this location and building for us,” said Sasha Jason at the time.

Neither of the owners could be reached for comment by press time.

During the five months Lenny Burger was in operation, it only offered take-away service. A planned sit-in liquor-licensed dining room with seating for between 50 to 60 people never opened.

In January, Sasha Jason told Yellowknifer in the restaurant’s first weeks it had been consistently packed. However soon after opening, the business received some critical feedback on local Facebook groups about wait times, occasional unavailability of items on the menu and prices.

By press time, the original Facebook post announcing the closure had been shared more than 100 times, with dozens of comments expressing sadness and appreciation for the Jason’s efforts.

The Jasons posted on Facebook they own the building and announced it will be up for sale shortly as well.

Perry Campbell is franchisee of Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken & Taters, the other fried-chicken stop in town. He said he’s sad to see any business close down.

“Certainly nobody wishes that on anybody, no matter we’re in the same business or not. This industry is tough as it is,” he said.

He said he currently has no plans to expand downtown but said it might be a possibility in the future.

“You know there is a market for downtown,” he said. “And I would be lying to you saying my ears aren’t always open to expanding.”