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.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations