Historic Sites of Manitoba: Half Moon Drive-In Restaurant (Henderson Highway, Gonor, RM of St. Clements)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

The original Half Moon on Henderson Highway in Gonor, directly across the Red River from Skinner's Restaurant, was established in 1938 by William (Louie) Kosowicz. In its 44 years of operations, it was known commonly as the Half Moon Dance Hall, Half Moon Chip Stand, Half Moon Stand, and finally the Half Moon Drive Inn Restaurant.

The original Half Moon buildings had a unique design consisting of three wooden buildings shaped like semi-circles. One was for take-out, one was for dining in, and the third was a dance hall. Louie's father Alexander, brother Stephen, and cousin Walter Mackelson helped in the construction of the buildings. Sister Olga and other family members assisted in the kitchen and served customers. Later, brother Peter joined as General Manager of the Half Moon. The brothers hired numerous students from Gonor and the surrounding community, giving many youngsters their first job.

In the early days, the dance hall was a big attraction. People would come from miles around to dance on the hardwood floors accompanied by live bands or the jukebox. During the dances one could pick up a bottle of liquor for 25 to 50 cents from the bootleggers who hung around the hall. After mixing it with pop, which was bought from the stand, people would drink behind the building or in their vehicles. In the winter, older boys were known to play penny-ante. The Half Moon was famous for serving delicious European-style wieners to visitors from all over Manitoba, Canada, and the United States.

At that time, business names did not have to be registered but its fame, reputation, and quality food spread fast through word-of-mouth. However, in the 1980s, taking advantage of the name “Half Moon” not being registered, an old employee of Louie and Peter registered the name with the provincial government and opened a restaurant in Transcona. Louie and Peter shook hands with this former employee, making a gentlemen's agreement not to expand his Transcona business.

Around 1982, the former employee purchased a building just north of the original drive-in and called it the “Half Moon Drive Inn”. At this time, the brothers temporarily closed their business due to a devastating armed robbery and Louie’s health problems. The brothers tried opening the restaurant again in 1984, but new zoning regulations meant they could not operate a commercial business on a suburban residential site with only three outhouses for washrooms. There was also the legal issue over the registration of the name “Half Moon” of the new restaurant nearby. Not wanting to make the necessary changes or fight a protracted legal battle, the brothers closed their business and retired.

The new Half Moon's current owner, Wayne MacIntosh, added additional indoor dining, outdoor picnic area, vintage signage, original neon lighting and shiny metallic finishes, to look like a 1950s hot spot, as it tries to pay homage to the original Half Moon buildings. The brothers’ original Half Moon business was never sold and has no affiliation with the present Half Moon.

The original Half Moon buildings were demolished on 2 November 1998 and the land was eventually sold. Louis Kosowicz died on 12 January 1995 at the age of 82. Peter Kosowicz died on 4 June 2021 at the age of 94.

Photos & Coordinates

Half Moon Drive-In

Half Moon Drive-In (1998)
Source: Darlene Kosowicz Marsch

Half Moon Drive-In being demolished

Half Moon Drive-In being demolished (1998)
Source: Darlene Kosowicz Marsch

The current Half Moon Drive-In

The current Half Moon Drive-In (May 2019)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.07783, W96.93571
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Skinner’s Restaurant (608 River Road South, Lockport, RM of St. Andrews)


St. Andrews Lock and Dam - Centennial Celebration, August 21 & 22, 2010. RM of St. Clements Heritage Committee. [Manitoba Legislative Library]

We thank Darlene Kosowicz Marsch and Susan Kosowicz Baker for providing information used here.

This page was prepared by Rose Kuzina.

Page revised: 3 January 2023

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