Salisbury House wants Esplanade Riel space again
Today is City of Winnipeg's deadline for expressions of interest
Posted: Jan 31, 2013 5:46 AM CST
Last Updated: Jan 31, 2013 10:17 AM CST
At least one restaurateur wants the former Salisbury House location on Winnipeg's Esplanade Riel — Salisbury House, the company that was there before.
The restaurant chain confirms that it has submitted a new proposal to operate on the pedestrian bridge, but not on a year-round basis.
The City of Winnipeg has been looking for new tenants for the structure, which has been vacant since Salisbury House closed its eatery there on Dec. 31.
Today is the city's deadline for expressions of interest in the space. Submissions are being accepted until 4 p.m.
Salisbury House president Earl Barish says this time, the company is prepared to pay for the restaurant's upkeep for only six months of the year.
The space is simply not profitable during the colder months, he said.
"Our focus and our expression of interest is much more directed toward the six-month period of time and to find a way to offset the cost," Barish told CBC News.
Barish added that Salisbury House's familiarity with the Esplanade Riel location is an advantage.
With the deadline looming for expressions of interest, Mayor Sam Katz said he's worried the Esplanade Riel space could be a tough sell to restaurant owners.
Depending on how many proposals come in, Katz said the city might have to get involved in the project, possibly through a partnership.
"I would certainly be open to listening to any ideas, there's no question," he said.
"First thing I want to do is see who and what comes forward. The other scenario is to see exactly how that other option can work, and maybe there can be a marriage between the two."
Earlier this month, Barish said he didn't think the city would have much success in finding a new tenant because the location on the bridge makes it hard to operate a restaurant.
St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal said the vacant space should be turned into a public plaza instead.
"I think we've got to get out of that little box that it's got to be a restaurant," he said.
Process being questioned
The restaurant space sits at the centre of the Esplanade Riel, which spans the Red River and links downtown Winnipeg with St. Boniface.
The head of Enterprises Riel, the economic development agency responsible for Winnipeg's bilingual areas, says he hasn't heard of any other proposals coming in.
Norm Gousseau, the agency's general manager, said he doesn't think the city gave people enough time — with just two weeks' notice — to assemble good business plans for the space.
"If anybody … would be able to turn something like that around, I would question the validity of their submission because you don't put a business plan together overnight like that," he said.
"With the importance of that bridge, and what it means to the City of Winnipeg in terms of an iconic structure, you would think it would have more time allocated to find the right tenant."
Gousseau said he was surprised the city had not contacted his agency before terminating Salisbury House's lease on the bridge space.
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