The Prairie Firehouse preserves history of downtown Brandon

Owner-operator Anna Dumas has plugged into the city’s heritage by establishing a restaurant in the city’s old fire hall.

With the Prairie Firehouse being part of Brandon’s downtown revitalization for several years, owner and operator Anna Dumas is excited to see the new businesses following her trek to the core of the city.

Dumas, who has always loved the history and the space of the old fire hall located at 637 Princess Avenue, was given the opportunity to turn the hall into a downtown dining spot that has gained a dedicated following.

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The main area of the hall includes the dining room, kitchen, bar and a stage, but the most sought after seating space in the restaurant would be the outside patio. Many patrons are often seen enjoying a drink or meal as you drive by.

Originally from Winnipeg, Dumas started out as the owner of a catering company. While fulfilling a job she and her chef had taken on, the customer asked Dumas if she would be interested in renting out the location and turning it into her own restaurant.

Dumas loved the space and, being a history buff, the heritage the old fire hall characterized. It was a major selling point for her when she decided to use the property.

“My husband and I would drive by this building and eight years ago when it closed, I always said to him, ‘We need to buy that beautiful building and do something with it.’ I was really happy when someone finally did,” Dumas said.

When thinking about the interior design of the restaurant, Dumas was back and forth on what she wanted to do, but finally settled on keeping the Wheat City in mind.

“This space changed a lot from what we originally wanted to do as we started thinking about what kind of restaurant we wanted to be. At first, we were thinking of being a bit higher end; kind of the way a steakhouse would look,” she said.

“But then we thought about what Brandon really wanted in terms of dining. We wanted affordability as well as to source our ingredients locally. So everything here at the restaurant is set in terms of how Brandon, the city, could enjoy a space that felt very much like their community.”

“My husband and I would drive by this building and eight years ago when it closed, I always said to him, ‘We need to buy that beautiful building and do something with it.’ I was really happy when someone finally did." – Anna Dumas, Prairie Firehouse

A typical day for Dumas always starts around 8:30 a.m. She drops her children off at school, then heads to the restaurant to get the day started. She checks her emails and messages from the previous night, as well as any concerns that her staff might have. She will then look at the reservation sheet for the day, followed by setting up the restaurant, which opens as early as 11:00 a.m.

Dumas will also order all the food, pick it up from local farmers and growers, complete the liquor orders, and sketch out the schedule for her staff of more than 40 employees.

Dumas can also be seen on the floor of her restaurant, often cleaning tables, helping out with orders, being a hostess, or slinging drinks behind the bar. She is always on the move looking for something to do.

Considering her staunch support of shopping local, Dumas has built solid relationships with the people who supply the Prairie Firehouse. Whether it be the vegetables, fruits, breads, or meats – Dumas will only have locally grown food served at her establishment.

“I love that I know the farmers and growers who supply the food here at the restaurant,” she said. “Prairie Rose Meats is where we get our meat from, and as someone who has travelled and ate all around the world, they have some of the best meats I’ve ever tasted. Everything is made from scratch. I have such talented chefs who know how to cook and blend these items. I firmly believe that I wouldn’t serve anything in the restaurant that I wouldn’t feed my children.”

Dumas is also happy to see the downtown area being revitalized, saying it’s not only good for her restaurant, but the community in general.

“With downtown right now, there are so many amazing things going on. We have all these new businesses opening up or even just re-locating to the downtown core,” she said.

“The city is working on better parking for residents to make their way here. There’s a lot of different forums that are taking place that are helping making this city a little bit more of an entertaining location. It’s been the effort of a lot of brilliant, intelligent people over the last few years, and I’m very grateful for the community that is starting to come back downtown.”

This story is the fifth in a series of stories featuring the businesses and organizations that have revitalized Brandon’s downtown commercial area since an effort to do so was launched several years ago.

© Copyright 2018 Westman Journal