Tourists, residents alike saying goodbye to Penticton channel icon | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy
10.3°C

Penticton News

Tourists, residents alike saying goodbye to Penticton channel icon

The sign says it all: a customer of Houndogs says so long as Debbie and Ralph Ramsay work their last month in the popular channel venue.
August 14, 2018 - 8:00 PM

PENTICTON - It’s been a fixture on the channel’s west bank, adjacent the Green Mountain Road bridge where many channel floaters begin, end or pause on their summer floats down the Okanagan River channel, but as of September, Houndogs will cease to be.

Debbie and Ralph “Relvis” Ramsay are calling it the end of an era as they prepare for their last month at the popular restaurant, which has been going strong from April until October every summer for the past 14 years.

“We’re ready to reduce the pace a bit,” Debbie says, as she describes the daily routine of eight hour days in Penticton’s summertime heat in the kitchen, or Ralph’s six hours a day average time spent entertaining as Elvis impersonator, Relvis.

“He blew his knee last year after running down to the channel to help a tourist in distress,” she says, adding Ralph slipped in his Elvis shoes (they weren’t made of blue suede).

“He still keeps on doing it,” she says.

FILE PHOTO - Relvis performed an average six hours each day at Houndogs on Penticton's channel in the summer months.
FILE PHOTO - Relvis performed an average six hours each day at Houndogs on Penticton's channel in the summer months.

Debbie says the two plan to take the act on the road, with a mobile unit where they can continue their venue at events like Peachfest, native powwows and other attractions.

“It’s going to be hard to imagine this part of the channel without us,” she says, adding they’ve met thousands of people, tourists and local residents alike, in their time on the channel.

“I want to be clear, we have no hard feeling toward the landowners, who have been great with us,” Debbie says, adding they’ve had some negative feedback from some people who want to petition the landowner to have Houndogs stay.

Houndogs is on locatee property, within the Penticton Indian Band.

She says use of the property isn’t an issue.

“I’m getting too old. It’s time for a change in our lives,” she says.

Relvis began with a hot dog stand on the channel 14 years ago. The couple, originally from Manitoba, were doing Relvis shows in that province before coming to Penticton. When Relvis started his hot dog cart, he decided he’d sing too.

He was an immediate hit, and as Debbie says, the act “just took off.”

Four years ago, Ralph, ever the showmman, produced a commercial for the business that rivalled that of hamburger chain A&W, who had weeks before produced a commercial based on activity in the river channel.

Houndogs also serves up a unique menu, completely based on bannock.

“Everything we make has something to do with fried bread or bannock,” Debbie says.

People cruising the channel and local residents return year after year. Debbie says a family who had been stopping by for the past 12 years couldn’t afford to come this year, but when they found out it was Houndog’s last year, they made a special effort.

“They packed up the family, grabbed a tent and spent four days with us. We’ve had people from around the world stop in. Everywhere we go, people know who Relvis is,” Debbie says.

“It’s really bittersweet, I’m going to miss the people terribly, but I’m ready to move on. It’ll be different,” Debbie says.

FILE PHOTO - Houndogs Restaurant on the west bank of Penticton's Okanagan River channel.
FILE PHOTO - Houndogs Restaurant on the west bank of Penticton's Okanagan River channel.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2018
iNFOnews

  • Popular kelowna News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile