Oh Edmonton, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Ray’s Sports Bar and Grill is… well, it’s gone.
For some time now, I have been in this band called the Mystery Ponies. We rehearse on Saturdays in the Westmount area, and we discovered Ray’s back in July, when it popped up in my GPS. On our first trip there, my friend Ryan ordered potato skins that took an hour and a half to arrive and instantly, we were all smitten.
Located on 152 St and 111 Ave, Ray’s was just a stone’s throw from Samsonow’s favorite haunt, the New West Hotel. It shared a strip mall with a convenience store, a liquor store and adult store The Passion Vault, the owner of which was driving a bobcat around the parking lot when we arrived to find Ray’s locked down on Saturday. He stopped long enough to break the bad news to my friend Pepe and I, and lament how much Ray’s had helped his business thrive (I honestly don’t even know what that means).
Oh Ray’s! We were still on our honeymoon! We still loved all those little quirks of yours! The food was really, shockingly good, and typically took so long to arrive that we eventually just accepted that anything we ordered was probably being brought over from the Boston Pizza at Westmount. Their jukebox was schizophrenic, and contained far more of Radiohead’s back catalogue than you would ever expect from a place with so much sports memorabilia on the walls. And they had the best serving staff ever, who even tried to take the sting out of room temperature beer by bringing it in an ice bath.
In the months that followed that first trip to Ray’s, every time we went there, it was special. There was the time my friend Justin had to help put out a car fire in the parking lot. The time Pepe and I realized they had a Chippendales themed VLT. The lady who kept asking me to unclog the toilet even though I told her repeatedly that I didn’t work there. On our last visit, we walked in to find a guy with a saxophone sitting at the bar, playing along with the jukebox. If I’d only known, Ray’s. If I’d only known.