The next time you’re out and about in downtown Winnipeg, and you’re thinking about a snack, consider Nick’s on Broadway. You aren’t going to find the type of meals you’ll run into at some of the swanky restaurants around town, but rather you’ll run into the easy eating, feel good food that you can grab in a hurry and enjoy.
The menu is constantly evolving based on what’s available locally, but you can depend on finding breakfast selections, your favourite sandwiches and the soup of yesterday, because it’s “always better the next day”.
Nick Graumann, 26, and Ana Damaskin, 27, opened the restaurant in January of 2015, with the intent of serving the lunch crowd of the thousands of Winnipeggers who go in and out of downtown every day for work. Instead of them going to food courts, or buying a sandwich from Subway that always tastes exactly the same, they decided to make some light fare that’s popular and easy to make.
“It’s an amazing location,” said Nick about the restaurant on the northwest corner of Smith and Broadway.” “Smith Street is bringing people in from the suburbs, and Broadway is Broadway. You’re surrounded by super old locations like the Fort Garry Hotel, and there’s some great history in the area.”
“Broadway’s starting to grow a lot more,” said Ana. “There were restaurants nearby, but they weren’t on the actual Broadway strip. Now there’s more and more popping up and they’re bringing people out of their condos and on to the actual avenue again.”
So why sandwiches?
“Who doesn’t like a sandwich?” said Ana, with Nick quick to add “everyone loves a good sandwich.”
Cooking school in P.E.I.
Nick is a native Winnipegger, while Ana is a self-professed Haligonian (she’s from Halifax). So how do a prairie boy and an Atlantic girl meet?
At the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, of course.
“Near the end of high school it was time to pick something to do,” said Nick. “I didn’t have a clear grasp of what I was going to do. I worked in a factory, I worked in a deli but everything kept coming back to cooking. Whenever I was at home, I spent my free time cooking, and reading about it so I decided to do that, and it worked out.”
“My grandmother was a pastry chef,” said Ana. “As a kid I kind of grew up in her kitchen until my parents grew up in her kitchen until my parents immigrated to Canada. I’m from Russia originally, but I considered myself a Haligonian. Through high school I was working at different kitchens. I went to university, and after several years of not liking it and trying to figure out what to do. I decided to go back to cooking, because that’s what I enjoy, and ended up going to the Culinary Institute of Canada.”
Local menu, local beef, local flavour
“Our menu gives us a chance to work with food in a different way,” said Ana. “Rather than frying our meats, we go back to the old school way of roasting. We get in touch with our suppliers, they tell us what we can get and we make our choices and menu selections based on that.”
“We’re trying to bring attention to the meat producers of Manitoba,” Ana continued. “Everyone thinks of Alberta when it comes to beef, but I think that Manitoba grass-fed beef tastes way better.”
“Side by side, it’s much sweeter,” said Nick. “It has a little bit of a grassier taste.”
“Right now our menu is set up for winter,” said Ana. “We’re focusing on some heartier dishes with the meatball sandwich, and the squash bahn mi.”
Sometimes the menu isn’t allowed to change, due to popular demand. The Baba’s Egg Salad sandwich was replaced on the menu, only for patrons to repeatedly request it to the point Nick and Ana chose to bring it back. The Baba’s Egg consists of Nature’s Farm Omega-3 free run eggs, beets, garlic confit, parmesan, house-made mayo, dill, lettuce on toasted city bread marble rye.
Now and the future
Now that the restaurant has been open for nearly a year, things have settled down from the early excitement and influx of customers, but only a little. The duo has settled on hours that include breakfast and dinner time after requests from customers.
“We said we might as well just open up and serve breakfast while we’re prepping for lunch. It’s easy for us to do while we’re doing other stuff. This area is conducive to breakfast and lunch, and demand led us to stay open until 7 every evening.”
“It’s going really well,” said Ana. “We had line-ups out the door at the start, and now we have them again now that the food trucks are gone. Catering is insane as well!”
“With how crazy catering is going, we’re going to need a walk-in fridge so we can bring in more product and take on more jobs. We’d also like to expand the seating area to allow for table service.”
Nick’s on Broadway is located at 287 Broadway and is open 8-7 Monday through Friday and 9-3 on Saturdays. Check out their website to see their menu and learn more, http://www.nicksonbroadway.ca.