Monday, July 23, 2018

Lot 88 Steakhouse and Bar to Open on Pembina

Steakhouses are staking out Winnipeg. In the last weeks Mr. Mike's SteakhouseCasual has opened on Kenaston and coming on the heels of that, Lot 88 Steakhouse and Bar announced they were coming to Pembina Highway.

In September, Lot 88 will take over the former Barley Brother's location that recently closed at 2005 Pembina Highway near the University of Manitoba. It is a large building of 6,900 square feet with a patio as well. The owners of the steakhouse approached Barley Brothers even though the site was not on the market. It was fortuitous as the owners there were about to receive a court ordered bill of $475,000 from their former location on Empress which closed 18 months ago.

Timing is everything and Barley Brothers accepted the offer and Lot 88 will open in September in time for the Banjo Bowl and the Bombers presumably. This will be third restaurant at the spot with Earls being the first. A steakhouse might be a good choice since there has not been a good one since The Keg relocated their location near the McGillivary and Pembina years ago. Go back even further and some cheap steak places like Mr. Steak and Ponderosa along Pembina.

Lot 88 will be a fine dining steakhouse. It brings a new concept of cooking your own steak at your table using a volcanic stone. It will be an interesting concept. It will certainly give other steakhouses competition .

The restaurant business is fierce. Much of it has turned to sports and grill formats. Flat screen TVs tuned to sports has changed the business. No longer is a restaurant/bar limited to a picture tube TV mounted in a box or a large blurry projection screen TV. They are ubiquitous. Still, a lot of people still love a place that has big booth, great food and are all about the atmosphere. Lot 88 will probably hit it off with them.

Pembina is a high traffic area and the location near Investor's Group field and the University of Manitoba should give it a spot on location. It will be interesting to hear what their lined up customers will think.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The End of the Cement Plant

July 2017

It has been a fixture on Kenaston for more than 50 years. The Inland Cement plant was constructed in 1963 and completed in 1965. In a few more weeks the large buildings responsible for build Portland cement  (a type of concrete) will be gone forever. City Mix continues to operate in adjacent buildings and cement is made in a building by a rail spur line by Inland Lehigh.

The location of the cement plant was no accident as nearby clay was quarried from what is now the Fort Whyte lakes. From 1913 to 1992 clay was dug up and holes left that were 60 feet deep. Things slows by late 1980s and by 1994 the Kenaston plant and cement/quarry site near present-day Forth Whyte shut down.

The quarry site is a distribution center now with several buildings and rail connections. The Kenaston plant has sat empty since 1994 although cement trucks continue to come to the next door Lehigh plant. Several Canadian and Hollywood production companies have filmed in the cavernous building over the years including last year. It lent itself to a horror or dystopian future milieu.

Until the 1980s Kenaston was a two lane road primarily built to go to the cement plant and rail yards. Linden Woods was not yet built and held the Van Wellingham dairy farm. Driving down Waverley, there was an unobstructed view all the way west to Kenaston, the cement plants and beyond.

The cement plant will soon be gone as will the Kapyong Barracks which are rapidly being torn down. Rumours about about what will go where the cement plant is. Easiest would more offices for the Terracon Business Park but there has also been talk of restaurants and a hotel to take advantage of proximity to IKEA.

Industrial buildings are never architectural gems, especially ones abandoned and spray painted. It does mark the end of an area for a building that represents what Kenaston used to be: an industrial service road. It has grown to much more and the plant's demolition was inevitable. Still, when you drive by, remember that the land used for cement was tomorrow's gift as Fort Whyte and for one of Winnipeg's biggest commercial roads.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Jekyll and Hyde's and Barley Brothers Suddenly Close

Over the last few days two restaurants in different parts of the city closed suddenly. Barley Brothers shuttered their Pembina Highway location in the middle of the weekend. They took down all their website as well. The reasons for Barley Brothers ending their run probably has a lot to do with a judge deciding the owners were on the hook for something under $500,000 for their former Empress location near Polo Park.

The Barley Brothers location on Pembina was the former site of Earls. They had closed the location after opening their St. Vital restaurant. The proximity to Pembina proved fatal to that location. In truth, despite its location near the Blue Bomber stadium, Barley Brothers is kind of awkwardly placed. In the middle of all the turn-offs for Bishop Grandin, it can be intimidating to some to access it.

The size of some restaurants can be its downfall. There are now several smaller joints out there that probably have higher margins. If even Earls had a hard time maintaining that location, imagine what it was like for a local ownership group. Plus having debt for the old Barley Brothers location was no help.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the abandoned Pembina location of Barley Brothers. I expect the size of the place will be an obstacle to any but the most intrepid types. Perhaps with both football and soccer in place by next year at Investor's Group Field, someone would see the place as ideal. Not to mention the large University of Manitoba and Pembina traffic flows.

The reason for Jekyll and Hyde's demise is due to a new property owner who is turning the space into three retail spots. In fairness, the old owner had not upgraded the site for many years. Still, this displacement seemed sudden. An auction was to take place Sunday but was cancelled. Very likely some bills to paid here before we see everything sold.

The restaurant business is a tough one. The trend recently as been to grills, sports bars and beers on tap. Osborne Village has seen a lot of business change in the last while. A transition has been taking place on Osborne. Long time landlords and retailers are closing or selling. Some are holding land and reluctant to subdivide or improve which has led to some people moving or simply shutting down.

The Osborne Village Inn remains a question mark but a few other places have been leased out. The cannabis stores are likely going to be in a few places on the street. They can likely afford the high rent. New housing is springing up all along each street in the area. The next incarnation of the village is probably progressing as we speak. Affordable housing and retail space though is quickly disappearing. As for restaurants in Osborne, I think we can expect to see less.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Osborne Bridge Pictures

Headed to the Village pre-1910. Wood bridge, dirt roads.
Headed to Village in 1910. What in tarnation? A steel and concrete bridge?