I’m looking for the right buyer, someone who doesn’t just ask ‘how much money does it make?
—Jorge Torres, El Torrito owner
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Two Winnipeg food purveyors are selling their popular businesses to chase new endeavours inside and outside the industry.
North Main eatery The Tallest Poppy and El Torrito, a food truck, both went up for sale this week for $25,000 and $45,000, respectively.
News of the sales comes as Winnipeg prepares to welcome a long roster of new chains and a handful of independent restaurants to the local food scene.
"I'm looking for the right buyer, someone who doesn't just ask 'how much money does it make?'" says El Torrito owner Jorge Torres, who is also offering the entire turn-key business (truck, name and menu) for $60,000.
"I don't want to sell to anyone who's not passionate."
Torres started his business in 2011 with only a "few thousand dollars" so that he could pay for his tuition at Alberta-based Canadian University College. Next summer, he starts a practicum as a prison chaplain so he won't be able to keep his business.
But if it doesn't sell, Torres says he will keep the truck and hire someone to oversee the business next summer.
The Tallest Poppy owner Talia Syrie, who currently runs the restaurant and catering business at Neechi Commons, also says it was time to sell.
Talia Syrie (Sarah Johnson)
"I thought I could do both of them but it was too much. One would suffer and I was pulled in two directions all the time," says Syrie, who is selling the space, equipment and furniture but not the restaurant name or menu.
She opened the 631 Main Street restaurant to critical acclaim in December 2007 and quickly gained a following for her homestyle cooking and family-style weekend brunches.
Winnipeg's food scene is "at a real turning point," she says. There is increasing interest in local foods, supporting independent business, knowing where your food comes from and eating whole food, Syrie says.
"It's absolutely moving in the right direction."
Meanwhile, the rest of Winnipeg's food scene is currently on the upswing. Mano a Mano and Teo's, a Corydon Avenue Italian restaurant and lounge owned by Brooklynn's Bistro owner Sam Colosimo, opens Thursday.
Saigon Jon's, a local Vietnamese eatery, will open its second location this fall near IKEA.
Restaurateur Bobby Mottola, owner of Pizzeria Gusto, has announced plans to open a new Asian-fusion restaurant in 2014.
While Hermanos, Carnaval and Corrientes owner Noel Bernier wants to open Prairie 360 inside the long-dormant revolving restaurant on top of Fort Garry Place
The Grove will open its second location in Winnipeg inside the former Papa George's location in Osborne Village. A second Carbone location is also in the works for 2014.
Meanwhile, chain restaurants Fatburger, Mr. Mikes and Milestones are all on tap to open locations in Winnipeg. Mary Brown's Famous Chicken and Taters, a Toronto-based chain, is also on the hunt for local franchisees.