Open & Shut: Peggy’s Restaurant closes after decades, and Anchorage gets a bar on wheels, a new spirits shop and a Canada Goose apparel store

Plus, a cafe and sandwich shop opens, Wild Scoops adds a walk-up venue, a new highway touring app launches, and a downtown yoga studio closes.

Open & Shut is an ongoing series looking at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to reporter Alex DeMarban at with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.


Peggy’s Restaurant: This Anchorage institution famous for its pies closed last Sunday. Its history dates back nearly 80 years to the World War II era.

Family members of owner Nancy Burley, who ran the restaurant near the Merrill Field airport for 35 years, say they finally convinced her to retire at the age of 72. Her joints sometimes ached from arthritis and long days at the restaurant, said Crystal Vicente, her daughter.

“We want her to enjoy her life,” Vicente said. “You never know when God will say it’s time to come home.”

Burley said she reluctantly agreed to step down, and is now focused on picking raspberries and making jam. “I’m not getting younger,” Burley said in a phone interview. “But I miss all my customers and all the people who supported me over the years.”

The day before Peggy’s closed, Burley was upstairs making blueberry, rhubarb and peanut butter pies with longtime employee Pam Wiswell.

The warm kitchen smelled like butter and sugar. A window let in a breeze and gave a view of the prominent Peggy’s sign outside the pink building, and the airport control tower at Merrill Field.

A longtime customer, Curt Woodard, took his time eating a slice of cherry pie with vanilla ice cream at the bar. He pointed to a bar stool across the way and said for 25 years, that had been his seat.


Three generations of Burley’s family worked there. Burley’s granddaughter, Shelnila Santos, 30, helped with cooking last Saturday.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking,” Santos said. “It’s hard, but I know that it’s gonna be good for my grandmother to get some rest.”

The diner’s history started around 1945, when the late Margaret “Peggy” Lott and others opened a pie-focused restaurant. At the time, Anchorage was booming after the construction of the Fort Richardson U.S. Army post. The restaurant dished up meals for flight crews and passengers at Merrill Field, Anchorage’s first true airport.

[How an airport cafe specializing in pie grew into the Anchorage landmark Peggy’s Restaurant]

Burley purchased the restaurant in 1988 with her late husband Mike Burley, and kept the pie-making tradition alive, said Vicente, the restaurant’s bookkeeper.

Burley, who still works out daily at a gym, cherished her longtime customers, Vicente said. Burley delivered restaurant meals to aging customers’ homes, paid last respects at their funerals, and reopened at night for civic clubs.

“We have lots of memories,” Burley said.

Vicente said the family has sold the restaurant’s property, but not the business. They’re looking at keeping Peggy’s legacy alive with a food truck serving up pies.

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Burn & Bloom: This downtown Anchorage yoga studio is closing next month after five years, said owner AlisaMarie Selvaggio.

Selvaggio said her business was growing and it was a difficult decision to close the studio at 325 Barrow St. She said a business next door expanded to the studio’s adjoining wall and that disrupted the peace needed for a yoga studio, she said.

“I could no longer give my students the intimate, magical space we had,” Selvaggio said.

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Bar Hounds: A pair of longtime bartenders hatched this idea for a bar on wheels after becoming friends while working at Williwaw Social in downtown Anchorage.


Branislav “Bane” Hasovic and Nicole Smith wanted to figure out how to “bring bartending to the people,” in the words of Smith. “This is our dream coming true,” Hasovic said.

Bar Hounds, employing a 16-foot trailer newly shipped from China, will make cocktails and mocktails and serve drinks at events along the Alaska road system, from Homer to Fairbanks and beyond.

The two-level trailer comes with a full-service bar, fold-down walls that become a floor, exterior lights, and a generator to power the freezer, fridge and ice machine. A spiral staircase leads to a rooftop deck.

The friends announced their opening Aug. 2 on Instagram. They plan to serve at weddings, corporate gatherings, concerts and other events, including birthday parties — with Shirley Temples and other non-alcoholic drinks for kids.

“The thing I love about it most is you’re not limited like a brick-and-mortar (bar) where you have to stick to a certain theme,” Smith said. “You can do a tiki bar, a Barbie bar, a Star Wars bar. We can make that happen, from five people to 400 people. We can go crazy with smoked cocktails and wow people, or we can just do beer and wine.”

Anchorage-based Barhounds can’t buy the liquor — they have no liquor license. They can make and serve the drinks and plan drink menus, a role known as a “dry hire” in the bartending business. They provide the fixings, like cocktail ice, glasses and mixing ingredients.


They’re already looking at expanding. They want to create a custom portable bar for indoor events this winter. Part of their goal is opening minds to “cocktail culture” and trends like edible foam clouds that float above drinks, Smith said.

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Snowy Berry Cafe: Amanda Solis started out selling treats like homemade cocoa bombs at a table on weekends in the Midtown Mall hallway.

Sales were brisk, so she moved into a kiosk and made another upgrade in July, opening a storefront in the mall.

Snowy Berry Cafe serves sandwiches and handcrafted treats that receive the Made in Alaska seal, like puff pastries, meringue cookies and chocolate chip cookies. She also sells her own tea mixes, floral-themed Italian sodas, boba tea and imported chocolates.

Solis and her family moved to Alaska two years ago. They didn’t like the heat in Florida where her husband, Javier Solis, now a veteran, had served in the U.S. Air Force.

When they’re not hiking outdoors, the whole family is often working at the shop, including Sophie, 13, and Kyle, 12.

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Canada Goose: This Toronto-based retailer, selling luxury Arctic outerwear, opened its only Alaska location in May in the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall downtown.

The international chain launched in 1957. Canada Goose gear sells parkas, rainwear, waterproof sneakers and other gear.

The store is located at Level 2 in the mall, across from Bath & Body Works, according to a statement from the mall. Canada Goose apparel is also sold at Big Ray’s outfitter stores in Anchorage.

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Allocated: Two whiskey connoisseurs opened this spirits shop at the former 36th Avenue Liquor store in Spenard, which had closed its doors earlier this year.

Allocated sells an extensive variety of whiskies, including single malt scotches, blended malts, bourbons and ryes. It also sells other spirits, like tequila, as well as wine and beer.

Everything on sale is hand-picked for its quality, said co-owner Long Lam, an accountant.

Lam and business partner Ylli Ferati, the bartender at his family’s Fiori D’Italia Restaurant in Spenard, met at the restaurant and became friends over their love of whiskey, Lam said.

[Open & Shut: Family doughnut shop moves to Eagle River, and Anchorage gets a new shabu shabu-sushi spot plus a Korean corn dog franchise]


They wanted to create a space where people gather to discuss the origins of fine whiskeys and other drinks, thus the comfortable area near the door where guests can sit in padded armchairs and enjoy free coffee.

“We want to be everyone’s bottle shop for very specific things,” Lam said. “We’re trying to change the game with how people shop for spirits, and so we take alcohol as a very serious matter. It’s truly a drug, so we promote drinking less, but drinking better and trying new things and exploring the ideology of drinking. For me, it’s like food and being open to trying things and sharing with friends. It truly is an experience.”

The store highlights preferred spirits on its website. The store is at 1207 W. 36th Ave., Suite B.

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Wild Scoops: The ice cream store with its unique Alaska flavors recently opened its third shop, this one along Third Avenue in downtown Anchorage.

The so-called “cone-tainer” walk-up ice cream shop is located in an upgraded shipping container in the parking lot at 49th State Brewing, at 717 W. Third Ave.

It gets a lot of foot traffic from locals and tourists, since it’s near the end of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

The spot will be open primarily in summer, and could close in late September or early October, said Elissa Brown, Wild Scoops founder.

49th State Brewing plans to turn the lot into a beer garden next summer, operating its own container van selling beer and food from a unique menu, said David McCarthy, co-owner of 49th State Brewing. The beer garden and ice cream shop might also be open for community events in winter, he said.

McCarthy said he wants to create a “space that becomes an active part of our community,” a family-friendly environment that’s accessible to bikers, walkers and others who like getting together outside.

“It’s one thing to sit on the restaurant’s deck, but it’s another thing to have this free-form area where you can sit down and have an ice cream or a beer or a meal,” he said.

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Audio Tour Alaska: Doug Bourne has launched this new guided audio tour for tourists and Alaskans on road trips. It’s available for download onto cellphones.

The GPS-based touring app highlights important historical and cultural landmarks along the road systems, shares Alaska stories, and provides details about wildlife viewing spots. It covers five trips, from Homer and Seward to Denali National Park and Fairbanks.

It’s locally created, using a voice actor from Soldotna and an app maker from Anchorage, Bourne said.

It’s available for download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Daily News photojournalist Emily Mesner contributed.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or