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Last of Iqaluit's iglu-shaped buildings to be torn down

Stephanie McDonald
Northern News Services
Monday, August 6, 2007

IQALUIT - Within a year, an infamous Iqaluit eatery will be demolished and replaced by a 50,000 square-foot office building.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

The 27-year-old Kamotiq restaurant will meet its demise next year, making way for a new office building in the downtown core of Iqaluit. - Stephanie McDonald/NNSL photo

Edmonton businessman Mike Mrdjenovich has bought the iglu-shaped Kamotiq Inn restaurant, opened in 1980 by Lore and Marcel Mahe.

According to manager and head chef of the Kamotiq, Brian Czar, the deal has been in the works since last November. The Mahes wanted to sell and Mrdjenovich was interested in the plot of land, centrally located at the four corners intersection in Iqaluit's downtown. Mrdjenovich already owns the Navigator Inn, the recently opened Nova Inn, and several apartment buildings in town.

Mrdjenovich confirmed he bought the building three months ago and has hired Ambrose Livingstone Architect to design the office building that will take the restaurant's place. The final drawings are now being completed and Mrdjenovich expects to demolish the building next year.

He is open to the idea of having a restaurant in the building, if he can find someone to open one.

"I'm interested in the land. I'm not interested in the building," he said. "It's not a landmark in Iqaluit, it's a garbage building."

Al Hayward, Iqaluit's deputy mayor, said that no demolition, development, or construction permits have been put through city hall yet and there have been rumours for the past year that the Kamotiq had been bought and sold several times.

"It's an eyesore," Hayward said. "That's a prime piece of real estate in the city of Iqlauit."

The Kamotiq opened in 1980 after the Mahes brought the dome up from Montreal. The restaurant has been shut down on a number of occasions as it was periodically unable to meet fire, health, and electrical codes.

Czar, who has been at the helm for just over a year, admits that the restaurant has never had a good reputation, but said that he has been working to change that.

"A lot of people can't afford the Frob (Frobisher Inn) or the Discovery," Czar said.

On Friday evenings the restaurant is usually packed with families, some returning after an absence of many years.

Asked what he thought of the restaurant being sold and demolished, Czar said "Big deal. It's called progress."

He said that some would be happy and others sad to see it gone.

The Mahes left Iqaluit in 1992 and now reside in Gatineau, Que.