Mane Bar Mobile Saloon

March 31, 2022

Mobile bars products of Métis entrepreneur's flair for restoration

Métis entrepreneur RJ Kusmack and his wife, Kari, have been operating Mane Bar Mobile Saloon for two years.

If you're a fan of Hallmark movies, you might catch Mane Bar in the background of Project Christmas Wish, filmed in Carman, Manitoba. It appears 13 times, to be exact. But owner RJ Kusmack isn't counting.

The Métis entrepreneur and his wife Kari, who have been operating Mane Bar Mobile Saloon for two years out of Lockport, were pleasantly surprised to be contacted by Hallmark for the movie, which was released in 2020.

"Completely out of the blue, someone just called us saying they work for Hallmark and they were looking for a unique bar," Kusmack said.

Since the film has a horse theme, it made sense for the production to use the vintage horse trailer as a hot beverage cart.

"We're really privileged to have them use it," he added. "It's really nice to every Christmas be watching the movie for the rest of time, and tell our kids, 'Look at the bar, look at the bar. It's pretty exciting."

Kusmack started the business three months after spotting a rusty vintage horse trailer parked in a ditch.

Mane Bar Mobile Saloon is a product of Kusmack's knack for restoration, which he also exhibits at his cannabis boutique, Fiddler's Green Cannabis Co. The Exchange District shop is decorated with as much recycled, repurposed, and reused materials as possible, from the display units made from old pub tables, decommissioned Hydro poles, and an old guitar, to the repurposed brick lining the walls.

"We like to repurpose, recycle, and reuse, where we can," Kusmack said.

As for his saloon on wheels, he was driving through the country one day when a rusty vintage horse trailer parked in a ditch caught his eye.

"I pulled over, I took a picture of the phone number, and I thought, this thing is too beautiful to be rotting in a field," he said. "I'm always looking at like rusted objects, and saying, 'Can I restore this and make it beautiful?' So I got home, started looking on Pinterest of what people convert horse trailers into, and of course the bar scene with horse trailers is huge, especially in Europe and all over the States."

That same day, Kusmack made an offer for the unique trailer, and within three months, Mane Bar's first bar was up and running.

"That's kind of how it started, this beautiful rusty thing in a field, and I just felt too bad to leave it alone," he said.

A true Métis Harvester, Kusmack finds old farm relics for the design, especially with the decorations, from a harvested deer antler to a horseshoe.

"Every time you look at the bar, we want you to notice something special about the design," he said.

The bar rental comes completely outfitted with beautiful decorations for all events.

The husband-and-wife team splits the work for the business. RJ does all the painting, fixing, patching, bearing swapping, and the electrical work, while Kari takes the reins for the branding and marketing.

"It's a really fun project for us to be working on together," Kusmack said.

From weddings, family reunions, and funerals, to children's parties, team windups, birthdays, and work parties, the mobile saloon is multi-functional.

"It doesn't necessarily have to only do with alcohol, because we've had it rented for children's birthday parties before, where they had a hot chocolate bar, where you can kind of customize your own hot chocolate," he said. "And they were serving sodas and hot dogs out of the cart, so it's very versatile."

Guests can customize the experience to meet their own needs. One group rented the bar for a New Year's Eve party, and brought ice bar stools.

In winter or summer, there's a place for the mobile saloon, which can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion.

"That's always a focus of ours, because if something's at a wedding, it needs to be very classy and tuxedo-like. But if something's at a children's birthday party or a funeral, for example, which we've had, it's OK to dress it down," Kusmack said.

The saloon on wheels can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Aside from the Hallmark fame, Mane Bar has been spotted at local breweries, pubs, and golf tournaments. Torque Brewing used the mobile saloon for two weeks straight at an event, and the King's Head Pub featured it as a walk-up bar on their patio. Mane Bar also sponsors the Dream Factory Foundation's golf tournament each year.

Kusmack said the feedback from customers has been very positive.

"People stand in front of our bar arm in arm taking pictures because they want it to be the backdrop," he said. "We've had such a great response."

Such a great response that the Kusmacks quickly had to build a second unit, with the first one booking up so fast.

Now the white trailer is joined by a black one, diversifying customers' options.

"They're both very elegant looking," Kusmack said. "You can also kind of make them a bit farm fresh, if you put a hay bale in front of one, for example. It turns this really elegant, tuxedo looking portable bar into something that looks like what it is: a horse trailer that's just pulled out of a barn."

The Kusmacks quickly had to build a second unit, with the first one booking up so fast.
Now the white trailer is joined by a black one, diversifying customers' options.

In honour of Kusmack's Métis roots, Mane Bar also offers the Métis community 10 per cent off the rental.

As restrictions have eased and events are starting up again, "Hopefully we can be a part of your events, family reunion, birthday, wedding, social even," he said. "Hopefully we can all grow together and get through COVID happy, healthy, and hugging family and friends."

Visit Mane Bar Mobile Saloon on Facebook or Instagram.


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B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

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