'Those are memories you retain for a long, long time': Main and Matheson Salisbury House in Winnipeg up for sale
An iconic remnant of a beloved Manitoba restaurant chain is now on the market.
The Salisbury House Express, located at 1545 Main Street on the corner of Matheson Avenue, has been listed for sale on the MLS real estate website.
The small, red-roofed restaurant – the last of its kind in Winnipeg – is available "as is, where is," for $421,500.
"Priced for quick sale, with no chance of rezoning condition," said the MLS listing.
"It's unfortunate, it was not an easy decision to make," said Earl Barish, former president & CEO and current chair of the Salisbury House board. "We appreciate our guests and customers who have come to that location over the years for sure."
Barish said there were many factors that played into the decision to sell the building, chief among them the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the restaurant was barely able to open when public health restrictions were in place. "Even when you could open it to some capacity, its too small, you'd (only) have two or three tables, you need to distance and all the things that were required, you couldn’t open it," Barish said.
As well, rising food prices, inflation, and the recent increase to Manitoba's minimum wage all played into the decision.
Barish said it was also the only Salisbury House location left in Winnipeg that was not a full-service restaurant.
The restaurant was first built in 1963 when the company was developing smaller, coffee shop-style restaurants that were popular at the time.
"That’s the type of service where cafeteria-style is used, you take a tray, slide it along, take some food with you, maybe place an order, and then go pick it up when the order is ready," said Barish.
But he said that particular type of service level just became less and less popular, and all the other locations of this type have been shut down.
"That particular location no longer fits the profile, and can't realty be changed or renovated into a full service, it's too small," he said.
Barish added the building does need significant work – mostly on its HVAC systems – and the bathrooms are not up to code. But he said he would love to see the new owner keep it as a restaurant.
"It would be nice if someone did that. There are some challenges to do that in terms of the physical condition, it would need to be enhanced. But one never knows," said Barish.
Regardless of who buys the restaurant, Barish said it will live on in the memories of those who ate there.
He said often people would come for a late-night meal after celebrations like weddings and bar mitzvahs, "And there you were in your suit, or maybe even your tuxedo, or your gown. But you were hungry, so the place you went to was Salisbury House."
He added it was a very common for the Main and Matheson location to be packed after midnight, as there weren’t many late night restaurants at that time.
"People in that whole North End area and even beyond often ended up at Salisbury house after those celebrations. And those are memories you retain for a long, long time."
Barish said the restaurant will remain open at least through the summer months, or until the sale goes through.
"For those people who are still feeling nostalgic and are in the city, give it a try!"
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