People have misconceptions about the West End. There's trouble in every neighourhood.
—Cam Tran, chef
Go West young foodie.
That's what the chefs are doing.
Winnipeg's sometimes derided West End neighbourhood is suddenly home to an array of new restaurants.
Blue Nile, Gohe, Sultan's Shawarma and Café ce Soir all opened in the neighbourhood in the past six months or so. The latest--the Vietnamese eatery and barbecue spot Midnight--is expected to open Thursday, March 7.
"It's just another sign of faith in the neighbourhood," says Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the West End BIZ.
Indeed, Midnight will reclaim a former dining spot at 614 Sargent. That address once housed the much-loved Portuguese restaurant, Picasso's. In 2005, it became better-known as the site of an outdoor gangland shootout that killed one bystander.
Café ce Soir owner Cam Tran wants to help build a food-lover's haven in his corner of Winnipeg's West End. (Robin Summerfield)
Chef Cam Tran opened Café ce Soir on Portage Avenue at Banning Street in early December. Tran was raised in the West End and trained as a pastry chef in France. He had no hesitation opening his café in the area.
"People have misconceptions about the West End. There's trouble in every neighourhood," he says.
Cardwell-Hoeppner agrees. She says that, unlike in other Winnipeg neighbourhoods, incidents of crime in the West End are dredged up for years afterward.
Victoria Zamora opened Winnipeg's only Peruvian restaurant La Rica Vicky 14 months ago. (Robin Summerfield)
Victoria Zamora opened Winnipeg's only Peruvian restaurant La Rica Vicky 14 months ago in the heart of Winnipeg's West End. She loves the area and has customers coming from all over the city as well as Portage La Prairie and Saskatchewan. Zamora says people want Peruvian food and she is the only Peruvian restaurant in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, Ellice Café and Theatre and Lo Pub, which both closed last year, face brighter futures.
Hostelling International Winnipeg Downtowner, where Lo Pub was located, is under major renovations. When complete, the building will be transformed into housing for international students attending the University of Winnipeg. The good news for diners is that the onsite restaurant will be open to the public.
An influx of new restaurants to the area will bring more people to the neighbourhood, says West End BIZ executive director Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner. (Robin Summerfield)
No deal has been finalized for Ellice Café, but many restaurateurs have expressed interest in the spot, says Cardwell-Hoeppner.
There are 117 restaurants and specialty food stores in the West End and the number is growing.
"It's positive economic development and the reaffirmation of the neighbourhood as a cultural mosaic," Cardwell-Hoeppner says.