All owners want their restaurant to be the next big thing.
But restaurateur Noel Bernier wants that for an entire neighbourhood. Bernier believes the east Exchange District is bursting with promise. That's why he's set to open his third South American-style eatery in the area in the last four years.
"But there's a bigger picture here than just (being lumped as part of) the Exchange District," he says. Bernier is on a mission to distinguish the neighbourhood's east zone as a world-class entertainment and dining district from its western counterpart, a hub for art, design and decor.
Noel Bernier studies the plans for his new Brazilian barbecue house, set to open in late December. (Robin Summerfield)
To that end, Bernier has partnered with a theatre on his side of Main Street, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
. The new partnership packages theatre tickets with a three-course meal at one of Bernier's three area restaurants, Hermanos
, Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria
and his latest venture, Carnaval
The launch of Dinner and a Show
coincides with the late December grand opening of Carnaval, Bernier's new Brazilian barbecue restaurant on Waterfront Drive. While the promotion is one strategy in Bernier's big plan, he hopes more Winnipeggers shift their attitude about the city's theatre scene.
He says Winnipeggers on vacation to cities like New York and Chicago don't think twice about buying tickets to the theatre and having dinner out on the town, a type of support Bernier says local productions deserve too.
His big-picture plan will take more than selling theatre tickets and feeding diners inside his new Brazilian-style churrascaria
. Success hinges on something almost ephemeral, organic and much harder to capture than a deal on dinner and a show.
It's about the neighbourhood's image, its self confidence and what it projects to the greater populace, he says. And that's something that doesn't just happen after a night on the town.