Tag Archives: downtown

Winnipeg’s First Indigenous Accord

Hello and Welcome to the May issue of Smart Biz!

Spring is here, and there’s a lot to look forward to this summer in Winnipeg – namely the Canada Summer Games and Canada’s 150th birthday!

This month I’ll be talking about Winnipeg’s first Indigenous Accord, which I’m so excited about. Continue reading Winnipeg’s First Indigenous Accord

Neechi Commons creating opportunities in the North End

Winnipeg store bringing hope and opportunity to North End.

It may be located in one of Winnipeg’s poorest areas, but one neighborhood business is bucking the trend by surviving the difficult times when others weren’t able to do so.

Neechi Commons (Neechi meaning friend/sister/brother in Cree and Ojibwa) is a full-range neighbourhood supermarket which also has a produce courtyard, restaurant, bakery, catering services, specialty foods, Aboriginal books, arts, crafts, music and clothing, as well as a seasonal farmers market.

Yes, it has a bit of everything.

Continue reading Neechi Commons creating opportunities in the North End

Building a resilient Manitoba starts with a vibrant downtown

by Stefano Grande and Jason Syvixay, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ

According to Statistics Canada, a base population of 1.2 million in the Manitoba Capital Region will increase to 1.6 by 2036, and trends are clear, more and more people are moving to urban centres. With rising costs to infrastructure, health care, jobs, and transportation networks, managing this population growth should be a central concern during the upcoming provincial election. True global cities are competitive when their knowledge, capital, and people are concentrated. With this in mind, social, economic, and environmental concerns that pose a barrier to a sustainable province may be reconciled with greater investments in downtowns. Continue reading Building a resilient Manitoba starts with a vibrant downtown

“Who doesn’t like a sandwich?”

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.

The dirty truth: what it takes to keep downtown clean

I smell like garbage. But that’s okay. I had the best day of the year this past week when I helped clean up downtown with the Downtown BIZ’s clean team.
Every now and then, I take to the streets with our front-line staff. It’s important to get your hands dirty, to see firsthand how your staff and the incredible work they perform impact our downtown. To get a better sense of what they do and how they do it. To understand and appreciate their challenges. To hear their ideas on how we can make their jobs more exciting, meaningful, and easier. So, I traded in my suit for a forest green uniform, work boots, a safety vest, and got an opportunity to get to know the people and the lives of my crew who serve as incredible ambassadors for our downtown.

I wanted to help clean up downtown with my team to show them how proud I am of them. I wanted my clean team to know that I appreciate the work that they do. And no doubt this week’s engagement with my team proved to deliver on this and more. Now that I have seen them in action, I can speak with confidence and integrity when I talk to the media or to our 1,300 members about how clean downtown truly is.

Hanging out with the team also reaffirmed my belief that they truly believe that they can transform the downtown daily. It’s obvious that our downtown-cleaning program is managed well and it shows. Picking litter, power washing sidewalks, cleaning bus shelters, removing graffiti and more – these are just a few of the daily tasks undertaken. I fear the day we stop. Because the trash, litter, and grime will not stop. It’s a daily war on downtown trash and litter. A war that we’re winning.

But it’s going to take the commitment of our entire community to keep downtown looking clean and great. Many of our business and property owners go the extra mile to keep areas around their buildings clean and tidy. They wash their windows, sweep the sidewalks. Thank you for caring when many others still don’t! And thank you to the many downtowners who move out of the way so we can do our job, and who smile and thank us when we keep sidewalks free of debris and garbage.

What I also learned was how businesses are creating jobs for people to improve the cleanliness of the downtown. Through their funding, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has been able to employ nearly 22 full-time and part-time clean team employees. When I took a break during lunch to hang with the team, I was touched by a moment between Brendan, a clean-team employee, and his wife – they were chatting over Skype. She was incredibly proud of Brendan for working hard to put food on their table. It’s a tough job.
But it’s incredibly rewarding and steady. I’m proud of the people who work for us. They are the definition of family.

My brief experience with my clean team was rewarding for many reasons. Deep down, I am envious of the daily sense of accomplishment they are able to feel at the end of every day. I certainly felt it. Working in a suit behind a desk can create change, too, but it often takes much longer to achieve.

When I came home to my kids to kiss them good night, they asked why I was limping, aching and sore. All I told them was that I had a hard day at work.

Thanks team.