Galaxie Diner
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Par Collaborateur PJ

Taste of a bygone era

Brad Myhre isn't your typical restaurateur. When Galaxie Diner opened in June 1996, he wasn't hoping to capitalize on a retro diner fad, nor was he expecting a runaway hit for Calgary breakfast lovers. In fact, he never advertised – even from day one, he says – and purposely kept it a hole-in-the-wall for locals who would have to go out of their way to find it, a notion inspired by his travels through the quaint towns of Quebec and New England. "I just fell in love with those places," he says. It was the Littleton Diner, opened in 1934, in Littleton, New Hampshire, that inspired the look and feel of Galaxie Diner. The allure of old diners, with their hot coffee, cozy interiors and rich history, appealed to Brad’s adventurous and warm personality.

The interior of Galaxie Diner is narrow, shaped like a railcar. This is no accident – 1930s diners were designed to be shipped on flatbed railroad cars. It also looks right from the era, though not kitschy or a cheap throwback. With its Formica chrome tabletops, red vinyl booths and Venetian blinds, it’s a scene out of an old film – without the cigarette haze. The sizzle of mountains of hashbrowns, eggs and sausages being fried is part of the soundtrack, along with conversation and laughter. It’s a cozy, intimate setting.

It's never been all construction guys, or all business people, or all hipsters. It's everybody. - Brad Myhre, owner
Galaxie Diner is a cozy, intimate spot to grab a delicious breakfast
Galaxie Diner owner Brad Mhyre is still happy coming to work, 21 years after opening the restaurant. Photo by Jonathan Lawrence
The Galaxie Diner serves up classic food straight from the 1930s, including delicious and refreshing milkshakes
The Galaxie Diner is reminiscent of old diners from the 1930s, right down to the iconic strawberry milkshakes. Photo courtesy of The Galaxie Diner

Humble beginnings

Born in small-town Manitoba, Brad moved to Vancouver with the intention of becoming a helicopter pilot. His path took an unexpected turn and he began working in a French restaurant, where he fell in love with the craft. Owning a restaurant, though, was never on his radar. When he later moved to Calgary, Brad realized the city was in need of hidden neighborhood diners, like the kind he would seek out – or stumble upon – in Montreal. So, he decided to open the Galaxie Diner.

It turned out that opening a diner was surprisingly easy – the owner of the property plopped the keys in Brad’s hand, shrugged, and said, “See what you can do with it.” They didn’t even sign a lease to the property. “It was just a handshake deal for years," Brad says. He started running the Galaxie Diner entirely on his own, six days a week, doing the cooking, serving, cleaning and banking. He worked tirelessly without help, doing absolutely everything for six months – a time he reflects fondly on. "It was fun. I was constantly running to Safeway to get things after the shift," he says. "Oftentimes, customers would not only help themselves to refills of coffee, they would go around the room filling everyone's cups."

More than 20 years after opening the diner, Brad is still grateful to be running it, and still loves comes into work every day. He had always hoped to be like one of the old owners of the cafes and diners he had seen in Montreal – slowed down, but still hanging out and working away.

The Galaxie Diner is decorated just like a 1930s film.
The Galaxie Diner looks just like a scene out of an old 1930s film, complete with Formica chrome tabletops and red vinyl booths. Photo by Jonathan Lawrence
The Huevos Rancheros dish at the Galaxie Diner has long been a popular option, and comes with no shortage of avocado. Photo courtesy of Brad Myhre

A place for anyone and everyone

People visit diners for the simplicity of the menu options – such as bacon, eggs and toast – and Galaxie Diner is no different. “It’s nothing fancy,” Brad says. Nonetheless, the cooks always strive for consistency and always use good ingredients. The breakfast menu includes such favourites as french toast, the legendary breakfast burrito or the Montreal smoked meat hash. For lunch, diners can order a feta burger or deluxe grilled cheese sandwich and wash it down with one of Galaxie's popular milkshakes. Brad's favourite meal is the Calgary Sandwich, which he describes as "the best Denver sandwich you've ever had in your life.”

Ever humble, Brad attributes his success largely to good fortune, but it’s really the result of a welcoming and unique environment that he’s created. "It wasn’t really a genius marketing move or anything," he says. While Galaxie Diner is now one of many breakfast diners in Calgary, he admits he isn’t quite sure what sets his apart from others. He does, however, give his diner credit for being all-inclusive. "It's never been all construction guys, or all business people, or all hipsters," he says. "It's everybody." Folks love the Galaxie Diner – lineups of people young and old have formed patiently outside the diner each weekend morning without fail, for years.

More than two decades later, Brad's role has shifted from sole operator to a team leader, though he still makes his own grocery runs. He takes it easy nowadays, much like the Montreal café owners who inspired him, and spends his off-time sailing, even instructing it on occasion. He meets with patrons that come into his little eatery, some of whom he’s been serving since they were children. "All I was trying to create was just a little neighbourhood diner... It's not phony and it's never changed," he says. "I like it exactly the way it is. We'll be here for the long haul."

The Galaxie Diner offers up traditional diner menu items such as bacon, toast and burgers.
The Galaxie Diner has been serving up delicious fresh food at its located on 11 Street S.W. since 1996. Photo by Jonathan Lawrence
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