After 12 years in operation Yellowknife restaurant Thornton’s will be closing its doors for good. The announcement was made in a post on social media by owner Graham Shishkov on Thursday morning.
“After much thought and consideration, this December will be our last month open for business. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our valued guests whom have become our friends over the years,” reads the post.
Shishkov said the decision to close the restaurant is not one he made easily. However, his lease on the restaurant was up in October. With the slow winter season approaching he decided it would make sense to close down before the expected dip in business.
“If I could keep going I would,” he told Yellowknifer. “I’d rather leave on a high note than find myself in a tricky situation.”
The restaurant was first opened by Luke Wood in 2007, who named it after his grandfather.
Its extensive wine list, fine cuisine and its famous brunch soon made it a hit in town.
The restaurant closed down in June 2016 with Wood telling Yellowknifer he had difficulties retaining staff, particularly after his chef left.
Along with his then business partner Sato Chankasingh, Shishkov reopened Thornton’s with a new menu which retained some staples – including its famous brunch – in October 2016.
Shishkov took over sole ownership of the business in October 2018.
He told Yellowknifer that Thornton’s has occupied a unique niche in town ever since it opened. On the one hand it was extremely popular with regulars, who saw it as a hidden gem in a city where pub food has long been the standard fare. However, it remained a little too hidden for some Yellowknifers.
“There are some people that saw this place as their best kept secret,” said Shishkov.
“Our best guests were these people from the hospital, who came here to get away from Yellowknife but that doesn’t work for business when people are trying to keep it a little secret. New people that would come in here would be blown away by the food and service but they hadn’t heard about it.”
Shishkov added that current state of downtown Yellowknife and the territory’s anticipated economic downturn also had a noticeable impact on business.
As he gets set to close down for good, Shishkov’s only regret is that he only had one season of operating the patio, which proved to be a huge boost to business during the summer.
“That was my addition to this place in an attempt to lose the stigma of Thornton’s being fancy,” he said.
The restaurant will remain open until its final brunch service on Dec. 22. Shishkov is urging anyone who wants to eat there before it closes to book in advance so that he can ensure the kitchen is fully stocked without wasting food.
“There’s a lot of regulars I’m going to miss interacting with. It’s basically always them you’re thinking about.”