WINNIPEG -- The City of Winnipeg is again looking for a new tenant on the Esplanade Riel, while serving up a bit of a twist.

“Well, it hasn’t worked to date, and so I mean it’s a spectacular structure,” said Mayor Brian Bowman.

To date three restaurants have come and gone; Salisbury House on the Bridge, Chez Sophie, and Mon Ami Louis.

A request for proposals is asking restaurant owners or anyone else to come forward with ideas.

“We want to provide a maximum flexibility for the private sector to utilize that space in a way that makes sense for their operations,” said Bowman.

Salisbury House owner Earl Barish says the space is challenging for a restaurant or any business.

He says a lack of parking, the winter months and operational costs make it tough to stay afloat on the bridge.

“We were losing probably $75,000 a year (before) any other head office expense normally charged to the restaurant,” said Barish.

The RFP estimates the annual costs to run a business on the site are:

  • $15,000 for electrical;
  • $2,500 for water;
  • $10,000 for repairs and maintenance; and
  • $15,000 for property taxes.

It also said interested business owners should indicate if they want support from the city

Barish says he can’t see how anything could work without financial help.

“As a problem solver, I don’t have much of an answer as to what exactly would work without a subsidized situation,” he said.

Mayor Bowman poured cold water on the notion.

“My preference would be for the private sector to let us know what they think could be a successful business model and for us to accommodate that without subsidy,” said Bowman.

The closing date for submissions is April 16.