ANOTHER Canadian restaurant chain is entering the Winnipeg market, and this one has its sights set on the downtown.
A spokewoman for Milestones Grill and Bar, a Vaughan, Ont.-based casual fine-dining chain with close to 50 restaurants in Canada, said Thursday the chain is about a week away from signing a leasing deal with a local landlord.
The spokeswoman wouldn't say who that is or where the restaurant will be located until the deal is signed.
"But we definitely have intentions of bringing Milestones Grill and Bar to downtown Winnipeg," she said, adding the outlet is expected to open in 18 to 24 months.
While Milestones isn't revealing the site, there are indications it's the 311 Portage Avenue at Centrepoint development under construction on the north side of Portage across from the MTS Centre.
A recent Centrepoint advertisement in a local magazine included an artist's rendering of the development, and it showed the name Milestones Grill and Bar on the Portage Avenue side of the highrise hotel/office/retail tower.
Longboat Development Corp., which is developing the project along with Artis Real Estate Investment Trust, and the local office of Cushman Wakefield, the leasing agent for the commercial space, have refused to name the two restaurant tenants that have tentatively agreed to lease space on the main floor of the complex.
However, restaurateur Bobby Mottola, who owns Pizzeria Gusto on Academy Road, confirmed last week he is leasing the smaller space facing Donald Street.
Mottola wouldn't say what kind of restaurant it will be until his deal closes, likely within the next week or so.
Milestones is the latest in a growing list of out-of-province restaurant chains that have recently entered the Winnipeg market or have confirmed plans to do so. Others include Famous Dave's of America Bar-B-Que, Woody's Bar-B-Que, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the Fox and Fiddle.
Scott Jocelyn, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association, said it's encouraging to see so many new players coming to Manitoba.
"(It) is great for consumers in Winnipeg. They have lots of different choices and it gets people excited about the industry." But it also creates challenges for the restaurant operators who are already here.
"There are not tons and tons more people going out (to eat), and they've got more choice," he said. "So people are constantly having to raise the bar and look at how they can improve their operations, because if they sit back on their laurels... they're going to be passed by."