St. John’s Gets A Little Less Foggy

Last week while scrolling through Instagram, The Racket came across a post from St. John’s and Avalon Mall mainstay Fog City. The post announced “Thanks for 22 years of good times and great memories in the Avalon Mall. Stay tuned for the next chapter!” The photo’s caption continued the sentiments by saying that memories were made with “a fine crowd” and that while St. John’s might be the foggiest city” but the “friendliest folks” reside here.

According to a representative of Fog City, the restaurant opened on Valentine’s Day in 1997 and was initially called Fog City Brewing Company and operated as a microbrew. Given the popularity of craft beer in Newfoundland today, this was a concept ahead of its time. The microbrewery concept may have been abandoned but the idea to incorporate local culture into the theme remained an integral part of the restaurant.

(Photo by Ned Pratt)

(Photo by Ned Pratt)

It shouldn’t come as a shock that Fog City vacated the mall. An article from The Telegram in the summer of 2017 first broke the news and revealed plans for a newer, more modern Fog City setting up shop on the newer, more modern mall parking lot. It was said that the new location wouldn’t be much bigger but it would be more modern, while “maintaining elements that customers appreciate”. There was even talk of a patio.

That was almost two years ago though, so the social media activity announcing the location’s closure took me somewhat by surprise. While I haven’t been to Fog City much in the past few years, its exodus from the mall serves as the end of an era for me. For years, Fog City was “my place”. You know how on Friends, there was Central Perk, and the gang from Happy Endings had Rosalita’s? That’s what I meant by “my place”. The place where you always went for a pint, to celebrate the end of another week, to wet your whistle before the latest summer blockbuster, to meet up with friends, or to celebrate an occasion.

(Photo by Ned Pratt)

(Photo by Ned Pratt)

As someone who worked in the mall, Fog City was an oasis to escape. I’ve taken many breaks (albeit extended) there during work. At Cheers, everybody knew your name, but at Fog City, everybody knew my order so heading there solo for a pint and a woodfire pizza before work felt like you were among friends.

Who didn’t love Fog City’s movie ticket promo? (Photo by Ned Pratt)

Who didn’t love Fog City’s movie ticket promo? (Photo by Ned Pratt)

After work, visions of a Five Alarm chicken burger and a pint (or a jug) danced in my head as motivation to get me through a shift. You better believe that the promise of Fog City got us through the mall’s annual Midnight Madness (now 20% Day or whatever it’s called), and Stina O, detailed this in a column for East Meets West, just before Christmas. In fact, it was at Fog City, that Stina went from co-worker to friend, which lead her to meet my parents and joining the extended Smith family. Mixing your friends with family until they sort of meld together is one of my favourite things.

Causing Rackets before we were Racketeers; Kris & Stina in 2012

Causing Rackets before we were Racketeers; Kris & Stina in 2012

Fog City was also old faithful. I can remember after organizing the first Labour Day Classic, a game of highly amateur soccer on the last holiday of summer, piling into the restaurant for celebratory beers. Speaking of beer, it was at Fog City that I first met one of my great loves; Rickard’s White. Now Rick White may be a far cry from the craft beer I often write about, but it was ya boi’s first foray into Belgian wheat (or wit) beer (or bier). When I first tasted this beer nearly a decade ago, I didn’t taste the hints of coriander with dried orange peel topped off with light spice and a refreshingly smooth finish, nor did I appreciate the unfiltered, naturally cloudy appearance. Let’s just say my palette has developed enough that I can tell the difference between Rickard’s White, Belgian Moon, Shock Top, and any craft Belgian witbier.

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Being a nostalgia buff, I immediately reached out to Fog City via email hoping to get my hands on some relic from the restaurant. I always had my eye on the large, painted comic depicting “the Newfie Hulk” (though I was never sure why he was purple?). Sadly all décor and equipment were sold at an auction prior to the social media post.

According to the representative we spoke with, there are still plans and active negotiations taking place for a new Fog City location and while we wait for this information, I’ll fondly think of the memories made and the friendships fostered at that unique little restaurant in the Avalon Mall.